Colorado has a high prevalence of mental health disorders yet not enough access to care. A 2018 report by Mental Health America ranked Colorado 43rd among the 50 states in terms of mental illness and treatment access. While the overall results of the ranking are alarming, data revealed how the youth of Colorado appear to be suffering even more.
Findings from 2016 indicate that in the previous decade, one out of four (25 percent) middle schoolers and high school students in Colorado experienced poor mental health. Sadly, this statistic corresponds with other reports.
For example, the rate of teen suicide in the Centennial State was 17.6 deaths per 100,000 teens in 2018, almost double the rate of the United States (8.9 deaths). Colorado also had one of the highest rates of youth dependent on drugs and alcohol in the country.
While the state of Colorado is taking measures to address the problem, such as referring troubled teens to reputable Colorado rehabilitation centers and mental health facilities, there is still much work to be done to improve the situation. Governments and residents must unite and consistently exert serious effort to produce positive results.
What Can You Do to Boost the Mental Health of Your Teen?
The current mental health situation of Colorado youth is tragic. If you are a parent, you can do more than just sympathize with the plight of Coloradan parents. Much like physical health, mental health prevention is better than the cure. Instead of worrying about the future, consider taking action to improve your teens’ psychological condition:
Develop Strong Bonds with Your Teens
Expressing love and support and building strong ties with your children significantly and directly affects their psychological well-being. A study published by the journal European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry revealed that positive parent-child relationships can build children’s emotional and behavioral strength.
Adolescence is a difficult and stressful period. Teens often face many physical changes and social pressures teens must during this time. Given these challenges, teens need security and support at this time more than ever.
Note that being caring and supportive does not mean you should try to prevent arguments by agreeing to everything that your children demand. Showing support includes employing discipline and setting certain standards of behavior, as these practices provide a semblance of consistency.
Expressing your affection, learning to listen, celebrating accomplishments, and spending regular quality time with your teens are just some of the simple yet effective ways to nurture your relationship. Ultimately, the key is to let your children fully understand that you are always available whenever they need you.
Encourage an Active Lifestyle
Countless studies have shown the mental health benefits of exercise and how sedentary lifestyles can produce poor psychological and physical well-being. Exercise triggers the release of important brain chemicals that improve mood, such as endorphins. Physical fitness may also alleviate stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression.
Living an active lifestyle provides many benefits, so consider helping your teen get moving, even if he or she is not necessarily affiliated with a formal exercise program. You can establish this lifestyle by encouraging your entire family to participate in various activities that require movement.
Exercise is necessary, although we are not getting enough of it. One study found that children are becoming increasingly less active. It reported that nineteen-year-olds are inactive and sedentary as senior citizens.
Set Healthy Habits
Encouraging healthy practices is another way to further boost your teenagers’ mental health. These practices include eating a good diet and getting enough sleep. A well-balanced diet consisting largely of fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods has been associated with good mental health. Numerous studies have established the importance of proper nutrition at an early age. Researchers found a correlation between poor diets and poor mental health during childhood and adolescence.
Apart from ensuring that your kids are eating nutritious food, you should also make sure that they are getting enough sleep. The connection between sleep and mental health makes a great deal of sense. Just observe how poorly your mind works and how lousy you feel whenever you are sleep deprived.
Depending on their ages, school-aged children and teenagers need different amounts of sleep each night. Keep in mind that the cost of sleep deprivation is high. A lack of sleep may contribute to numerous psychological conditions, such as depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorders. Assess your teens’ sleeping patterns and help them develop effective bedtime and wake up routines.
Introduce Healthy Ways to Manage Stress
You cannot completely shield your children from painful experiences and challenges. While it may hurt you to see them go through such experiences, they are necessary to build emotional and mental resiliency. While you cannot experience pain for them, you can teach them healthy coping skills so that they will not be overwhelmed by stress during tough times.
Instead of waiting for your teens to learn how to alleviate their stress entirely on their own, you can be proactive and introduce them to stress management tools. You can teach them how to meditate or perform breathing and other relaxation techniques. You can also encourage them to listen to music, paint, create art, and write in journals to soothe themselves.
Assist Your Teens in Developing Positive Self-Esteem
Many studies have established a positive link between one’s self-esteem and one’s overall psychological well-being. When your children have positive views of themselves, they are generally happy and able to see situations in positive ways. If they learn to develop negative views of themselves, however, they are prone to suffering from mental health issues such as addiction, anxiety, and depression.
Help your children develop high self-esteem by providing genuine praise, encouraging them to pursue their interests, allowing them to do things independently, and paying attention to them. Be cautious of how you treat them and how you treat yourself. Teens learn from their parents’ examples, whether they are aware of it or not.
The importance of good mental health, particularly among youth, cannot be stressed enough. It provides the key to overall well-being, impacts youths’ chances of succeeding in their social and academic pursuits, and ultimately shapes society’s future. Given the significance of good mental health, consider these suggestions to help your kids to overcome or even prevent the pitfalls of mental illness.