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Mental Health for Teens: Foundations for Success

Explore key strategies and approaches to foster mental health for teens and uncover how early intervention can lay the foundations for lasting well-being.

Mental Health for Teens: Foundations for Success

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Mental Health for Teens

Recently, the topic of mental health has gained a lot of worldwide focus. However, society often neglects the importance of mental health for teens. Poor teen mental health is often dismissed as mood swings or average teenage behavior when the reality is far more complex. 

Helping teens build habits around healthy mental health practices offers a foundation for success. 

This article provides a comprehensive view of what mental health for teens looks like today. This includes common mental health issues, signs of declining mental health, and the cognitive impact of social media. 

Mental Health and the Home

Guiding teens towards mental health is an important part of parenting. Friends and family can also provide support. Teens are a foundational part of a functioning family. When part of a family suffers, the whole family undergoes dramatic changes. 

Signs a Teen Struggles with Mental Health at Home

Home life for a teen may look different when mental health is suffering. Changes that may occur within the family include the following:

  • Less communication
  • Distancing
  • Limited quality time
  • Poor attitude around the house
  • Displays of rudeness or bouts of anger

The Importance of Family in Mental Health for Teens

The family should be a place of calm and support. When this isn’t the case, the family home can become a deterrent for mental health. 

Family therapy can provide a solution for unhealthy habits of communication or behavior. Get in touch with Iris Healing to determine if this therapy may be a healthy step for your family. 

What Causes Issues in Mental Health for Teens?

There are many hurdles of adolescence that can trigger mental health issues. These may include the following factors:

  • Hormonal shifts
  • The pressure to succeed
  • Changes in social circles
  • Insecurity with newfound self-awareness
  • Anxiety caused by new goals and shifts in focus

Fortunately, there are many ways to find support during the tumult of teenage years. Read on to learn more about how Iris Healing can help.

What are Common Challenges When It Comes to Mental Health for Teens?

Adolescence is a time of great change and adjustment, and this is often accompanied by various mental health challenges. By understanding these, families can seek appropriate support to guide teenagers toward effective solutions. 


This is one of the most common challenges affecting teens. Depression is characterized by the following symptoms:1

  • Persistent feelings of sadness
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
  • Lack of motivation

A therapist or psychologist can often help teens understand problems from an outside perspective. This can be a helpful step to garner healthy independence and empowerment.

Anxiety Disorders

Nearly 1 in 3 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18 will experience an anxiety disorder. This can manifest in various forms. 

Examples include the following:2

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder

The Effect of Anxiety

Anxiety can significantly impact mental health for teens. It can lead to the following symptoms:

  • Excessive worry
  • Restlessness
  • Concentration problems

Promoting stress management is important to reduce anxiety. Creating a calm, safe space at home is also important. 

Eating Disorders

Teenagers – especially females – are especially at risk for developing an eating disorder. This can be due to societal or peer pressure, feeling displaced in their developing body, or general low self-esteem.

Eating disorders can manifest in the following ways:

  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Bulimia nervosa
  • Binge-eating disorder

These are serious conditions. Eating disorders are characterized by unhealthy eating habits and an obsession with body weight or shape. 

It is vital to recognize the signs of an eating disorder early. Seeking appropriate help through nutritional counseling and psychotherapy are effective steps forward.

Substance Addiction

Substance addictions are a significant concern regarding teen mental health. These addictions can involve the following substances:

  • Alcohol
  • Illegal drugs
  • Prescription medications

Families can provide support by fostering open communication and education about the risks of substance addictions. Families may also consider seeking professional help if necessary.

Self-Harm and Suicidal Ideation

Self-harming behaviors and thoughts of suicide are serious indicators of distress. These are grave concerns when addressing mental health. 

Immediate professional help should be sought in these situations, and it’s crucial to let the teen know they are not alone.

Effects Of Mental Health For Teens on Overall Wellbeing and Development

Mental health has a profound impact on development and well-being. Supporting a teenager during this time can have a lifelong impact. 

Emotional Well-Being

Mental health for teens is strongly linked to emotional well-being. Adolescents dealing with mental issues often experience feelings of sadness and worry. 

This emotional distress can inhibit the ability to enjoy life. It also affects engagement and participation in activities that were once enjoyable. 

Social Development

Social interactions and the ability to form meaningful relationships are central to a healthy adolescent experience. Teens struggling with mental health issues may practice isolation. 

For some, it may be difficult to maintain relationships. This leads to a feeling of loneliness which can exacerbate issues of mental health for teens. 

Academic Performance

Mental health influences academic performance in several ways, including the following:

  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Memory issues
  • Lack of motivation
  • Heightened anxiety

These symptoms of poor mental health for teens mean a negative impact on school performance. This can diminish future opportunities.  

Physical Health

Mental health is closely tied to physical health. Conditions like depression and anxiety can lead to the following physical symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Stomach and digestive issues
  • Disrupted sleep patterns

In more severe cases, mental health issues can also contribute to harmful behaviors. These include substance use disorder or self-harm. These can severely impact a teen’s physical health.

Self-Perception and Self-Esteem

Mental health for teens plays a significant role in shaping self-perception and self-esteem. Teens with mental health issues might struggle with feelings of worthlessness and poor self-image. 

This can impact confidence and affect interpersonal relationships. It can also limit any potential to explore personal or career opportunities.

Life Skills and Coping Mechanisms

Mental health for teens influences the development of essential coping mechanisms. 

Adolescents with mental health issues might struggle with the following important life skills:

This can hinder the  ability to cope with life’s challenges and navigate through adulthood successfully.

How To Recognize Signs of Mental Health Issues In Teenagers

Recognizing signs of mental health issues in teenagers can be challenging. This is because there are a myriad of physical and emotional changes that occur during adolescence. However, being aware of specific signs can help with providing the appropriate support.

Changes in Mood or Behavior

Parents and educators should pay attention to persistent changes in a teenager’s mood or behavior. If a typically outgoing teenager suddenly becomes withdrawn, this could be a sign of an underlying mental health issue. 

On the other hand, if a usually cheerful teenage becomes continuously irritable or sad, this may also pose a concern.3

Drop in Academic Performance

A sudden or gradual decline in grades or interest in school could be an indication of a mental health issue.

Providing Appropriate Academic Support

To help a teen who is struggling academically, schools may provide access to guidance counselors or psychologists. Teachers can provide extra help and adjust academic expectations when necessary. 

At home, try to provide a calm environment that is conducive to healthy communication. Supplemental academic tools can be implemented that involve others as well. This can serve the purpose of family involvement to slowly build  confidence and a feeling of comradery. 

Loss of Interest in Activities

If a teenager suddenly loses interest in activities that were once enjoyed, this could be a sign of mental health decline. Encourage the teenager to express feelings and concerns. Help with providing ideas for new hobbies or interests. 

Changes in Eating or Sleeping Habits

All of the following can be indicators of mental health issues:

  • Dramatic changes in appetite
  • Rapid weight loss or weight gain
  • Poor sleep habits

Parents should express concern without judgment and encourage healthy lifestyle habits. Professional help might be needed in cases of eating disorders.

Excessive Worry or Fear

A teenager may show signs of constant worry or express irrational fears. Parents and educators can provide a solid foundation of support and validation. Professional help from a therapist or counselor could be beneficial in managing these symptoms.

Self-Harm or Suicidal Thoughts

Any form of self-harm or expression of suicidal thoughts is an indicator to seek professional help. Immediate attention should be sought to help guide teenage individuals away from dangerous behaviors. 

Substance Abuse

Using drugs or alcohol to cope with feelings or problems can be a sign of mental health decline. Early intervention is key in these situations. 

Addressing the issue can be difficult, and it is important to avoid being overly confrontational and judgemental. At Iris Healing, mental health professionals can help provide guidance and proper treatment. 

The Effect of Social Media on Mental Health For Teens

Social media plays a significant role in the lives of many individuals. It can have positive and negative influences on mental health for teens. It is important to understand these impacts and learn to help navigate social media in a healthy way. 

Comparison and Low Self-esteem

Social media often showcases an idealized version of life. This leads teenagers to compare the following self-aspects:

  • Life circumstances
  • Bodily appearance
  • Achievements
  • Relationships

Comparison within social media results in feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. 


Teenagers are particularly susceptible to cyberbullying on social media platforms. Experiencing such behavior can lead to anxiety and depression.4

Social Isolation

Social media provides a platform for connection, but for many teens, excessive social media use leads to feelings of isolation. 

Many adolescents spend too much time online which can mean less face-to-face social interactions. In person experiences can help adolescents learn and grow using all five senses. 

Sleep Disruption

Overuse of social media, especially before bed, can disrupt sleep patterns. Healthy amounts of sleep is crucial for mental health. 

How Teenagers Can Navigate Social Media in a Healthy Way

There are many ways to help mitigate any negative consequences of social media. The following practices may help improve mental health for teens. 

Digital Literacy and Critical Thinking

It is easy to forget that what is seen on social media may not always reflect reality. Teens should be encouraged to critically analyze social media content.

Setting Boundaries

It is also important to set healthy boundaries regarding social media usage. This could include designated periods of unplugging. It is a healthy practice to avoid social media before sleep. 

Reporting and Blocking Negative Content

Teens should be encouraged to report abusive content or behavior on social media. Accounts that are not serving a positive purpose should be avoided or blocked. 

Open Dialogue

Parents and educators should have open conversations about the pros and cons of social media. It can be helpful to have a discussion on the impact of social media on mental health.

Promoting Positive Online Behavior

Encourage teens to engage in positive online behavior. This can include the following practices:

  • Sharing uplifting content
  • Using respectful language
  • Respecting privacy
  • Avoiding content that does not serve a positive or constructive purpose
mental health for teens

Mental Health Resources Available for Teens

When it comes to mental health struggles, it is important to remember that you are not alone. There are many resources available to help you and your loved ones. 

School Counselors

School counselors are often the first point of contact for mental health support in educational institutions. 

They are trained professionals who can help provide referrals to external resources. They can also work with parents and teachers to help a teen in need.

Mental Health Professionals

Mental health professionals provide services such as the following:

Seeking support from these professionals can be a helpful step forward. 

Support Groups

These are groups of people experiencing similar mental health concerns. Iris Healing helps to facilitate support groups for sharing experiences and providing mutual understanding.

The following may also provide resources for support groups:

  • Local community centers
  • Hospitals
  • Online platforms

Mental Health Apps

There are numerous mobile applications designed to support mental health. These can help track your mental health and offer access to therapy. 

Contact Iris Healing to Learn More

Reaching out for help is a sign of strength. By exploring and utilizing available resources, you can find the support you need to grow in the right direction. 

If you or a loved one is looking for a treatment center that offers effective tools for improving mental health, reach out to Iris Healing. 

We offer a holistic approach to mental health for teens that encompasses the following aspects of wellness:

  • Mental health
  • Physical health
  • Spiritual health
  • Emotional health

Contact us today to learn more about our services.

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