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November 3, 2015

November 8-14 is National Mental Health Wellness Week, yet many families do not recognize this period of awareness as they feel it does not pertain to them.

Even today, the term “mental health” comes with a stigma attached. “We now have clear evidence that stigma has a toxic effect by preventing people seeking help for mental health problems,” says Professor Graham Thornicroft on Healthline.com. “The profound reluctance to be a ‘mental health patient’ means people will put off seeing a doctor for months, years, or even at all, which in turn delays their recovery.”

Young people are the group most affected by the mental health stigma, along with men, minorities, military personnel and those working in the healthcare field itself. When attempting to cope with stressors, many teens turn to negative, self-defeating behaviors, before approaching a parent or professional for help. These behaviors eventually build barriers that can prevent teens from living a happy, confident life.

Attempting to Shed the Stigma

Mental Health Wellness week is a time when parents can help support their struggling teen, and attempt to help shed this stigma. Mental National Health Wellness Week is a grassroots public education campaign, created to:

  • Promote greater understanding of what mental health wellness is
  • Address the mind/body connection
  • Provide evidence-based approaches to mental and physical whole-person wellness
  • Help teens and adults find support groups and wellness events near them
  • Address vital coping skills such as stress management techniques, mindfulness, healthy lifestyle choices and realistic goal setting

Poor Mental Health as a Confidence Killer

The term “mental health” is a wide-cast net, encompassing everything from how we think about ourselves, our lives and the world around us. Remember, just because your teen may not appear to have a serious mental health issue, there may still be an opportunity to improve their overall mental health wellness. Did you know low-self esteem can be a result of a variety of mental health issues? In fact, it’s a literal thinking disorder in which an individual views himself or herself as unlovable, inadequate and/or incompetent. Teens with low self-esteem have been found to grow into depressed adults, according to research analyzed on PsychologyToday.com.

Here are some common mental health issues that can kill your teen’s confidence, and how you can help them overcome.

1. Negative Comparisons

Comparison is said to be the thief of joy, and in today’s modern world, it steals confidence via social networks and smartphone apps. Today’s teens are highly connected, living as a fly on the wall in other’s lives just as much as living in their own three-dimensional reality. Because teens often show their “ideal” life in Instagram photos and Facebook status updates, it can be easy to put a magnifying glass to areas where they feel they don’t stack up—wealth, physical appearance, athletic ability, etc.

2. Perfectionism

Oftentimes the stress our teens feel on a daily basis comes from their own personal criticism. If your teen often procrastinates, feels overwhelmed when making day-to-day decisions or gives up before ever trying, he/she may be a perfectionist. Perfectionists have self-esteem that can fluctuate drastically depending on how well they meet their excessively high personal standards. This is extremely dangerous as perfectionism is strongly related to self-harm, according to a York University study published in the Review of General Psychology.

3. Thoughts of Regret

When a struggling teen allows their thoughts to travel to the past, desperately wishing they could undo a personal decision or action, they prevent themselves from practicing mindfullness. When used as proper motivation, thoughts of regret can propel appropriate reflection and steer a teen back on the right course. But regret can also develop into a pestering sidekick, tagging along as a nagging “frenemy” living inside our teen’s heads, taking a toll on their mental and physical health.

During this year’s Mental Health Wellness week, take time to talk to your teen about these self-defeating behaviors and provide tools and resources to help them improve their mental health status. If you need additional resources or professional help, Pacific Quest is here for you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
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