What Teens Need for Good Mental Health



There are all sorts of parenting styles, family dynamics, and relationships that can affect a teen’s mental health. For instance, one family might have a loose structure where the children are going to bed later at night and perhaps not always getting the amount of sleep they need. Another family might have a very rigid structure where children feel the weight of the family rules and don’t get as much emotional connection as they would like. Various circumstances and family dynamics play a role in the development and mental health of children and teens.

However, experts are clear that children and teens have to have a few basic needs met for their mental health to be resilient and healthy. If you want to support your teen’s mental health, consider the following suggestions for meeting your teen’s physical and emotional needs:

Physical Health

  • Know that your teen’s mental health is just as important as his or her physical health.
  • Support your teen’s healthy eating habits. Talk to a nutritionist about assessing the unique nutritional needs your teen has and how to create a healthy diet to meet those needs.
  • Create a schedule with your teen so that they are getting enough sleep each night. Teens typically need about 9 hours of sleep each night, which may mean they need to go to bed at 9pm in order to be up by 6am.
  • Encourage your teen to be physically active. Exercise can help with long-term mental health, including making new connections in the brain, which alone can facilitate long-lasting change.
  • If your teen is not always under your care, make sure that they have a healthy living environment no matter where they are.

Emotional and Mental Health

  • Let your teen know that you love them unconditionally. When an adolescent feels love from his or her parents, it facilitates with loving him or herself.
  • Let your teen know – in as many ways as possible – that they can trust you. When there is trust in a relationship, there’s room for vulnerability, safe expression of feelings, and a basic emotion of feeling “okay” in the relationship.
  • Encourage honesty, safety, and play in your parent-teen relationship.
  • Talk to your adolescent about his or her career and academic goals. This can build excitement about attending school for academic and occupational reasons.
  • Encourage your teen to participate in extra-curricular activities and try new experiences.
  • Encourage your child to make friends and to be a friend to others.
  • Talk to teachers and school counselors about how your child is doing socially and emotionally at school.
  • Create a schedule for your teen so that they have less time using technology.  In fact, one way to facilitate a healthy sleep schedule is to limit the use of technology, such as television, cell phones, and Ipads.
  • Get to know the school-based programs that might be available to support your teen’s mental health.

These are suggestions for supporting your teen’s psychological health. As you can see, there are many factors that play a role in a teen’s general well being, including physical health, emotional safety, and love.