Teens looking for ways to improve mental health & wellness

April 19, 2022

Teenage behavior studies have been conducted for decades, but some specific issues have become more mainstream conversation topics rather than reserved for academics. Mental health – specifically depression and anxiety – has been confronting high school students and their parents more than ever before. 

Depression among students is pervasive.

According to a Brown University study, depression rates tripled during the first year of COVID-19. As the pandemic, the psychological burdens got more intense. Nearly half of the high school students surveyed by the CDC’s Adolescent Behaviors and Experiences Survey reported having persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness

In the UK, one-third of teens surveyed spend over 3 hours per day on social media. A whopping 20% spend over 5 hours per day on social apps. One of the obvious results of all that time on apps is less time sleeping. Only 1 in 4 students get the sleep they need.

So what can high school students do to improve their mental health?

Obviously we’re not psychologists or therapists. But we’re constantly looking for ways to equip and empower students to set themselves up for success. That doesn’t mean completely shutting off the internet and social media, but there are some practical things teens can do to improve their mental health. 

(1) Get a good night’s sleep!

You may have guessed this one. Most teens need 8-10 hours each night. Here are some reasons why it’s so important. 

(2) Write a thank you note.

Gratitude helps you and the recipient. The note can be about anything big or small. Maybe a simple note to your sibling for their contagious laugh.

(3) Walk through nature.

Besides the benefits of physical activity, the great outdoors reduces obsessive, negative thoughts.

(4) Play board games and card games.

No matter how young or old you feel on the inside, games have a way of soothing the spirit. Plus, it’s a great way to socialize outside the classroom.

(5) Do some chores without getting paid.

Sure, summer jobs are best when they involve a paycheck. But you’ll find it hard to quantify the value of volunteering your time to help someone with work around their house.

(6) Call a friend!

There’s an app on your phone called “phone.” Keeping in touch with friends is important, especially during the summer when you’re out of school. 

(7) Listen to music.

Neurologists have found that music has the ability to reduce stress, expand creativity, treat depression, and help us heal from traumatic events. Just push play!

(8) Doodle.

Use whatever’s nearby. Pencil, pen, marker, highlighter, paint, or lipstick. Get out a few pieces of notebook paper and just be free. Believe it or not, doodling helps your focus and memory!

Mix and match!

Call your friend to let them know you’re about to walk over the river and through the woods to get to their house. Play a board game together while listening to a new playlist. Go back home exhausted and write a thank you note to your mom for a great dinner before heading upstairs for a good night’s sleep.

What do you think? How can high school students improve their mental health to reduce depression and anxiety?