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Mental Health in Teens

MENTAL HEALTH: What Goes on Behind Closed Doors

By: Ava Kannady

Society, parents, teachers, coaches, and ourselves often overlook a teenager’s mental health. However, it shouldn’t be overlooked – it deserves our society’s attention, loved ones, and ourselves.

Mental health affects different aspects of your body, such as attitude, mood, health, and view on life. From the moment I started school, I have always told myself that everything happens for a reason. No matter how cheesy it sounds, I’ve found it to be true in my own life. Experiencing poor mental health can feel like the end of the world; however, from experience, taking care of yourself and shifting to a healthier lifestyle and mindset can tremendously improve mental health.

Mental health struggles can cause you to compare yourself to others. It makes you feel like you have the worst life and is the most unhappy person walking on Earth. But feelings can be deceiving. We must learn how to love ourselves and our life before loving anyone or anything else. We need to remind ourselves that our bodies and minds are valuable. We need to tell ourselves we matter and deserve self-respect.

Everyone experiences poor mental health at some point in their lives.

Almost everyone has experienced seasons of poor mental health. The Mental Health Association found that in 2022, 15% of youth in the United States experienced a major depressive episode. Everyone has struggles, whether at home, in relationships with their significant other or friends, self-love, or something else.

The scariest part is that sometimes you never know what a person is going through or how they feel. Some people experiencing poor mental health are great at masking their true feelings. They continue smiling, treating others with love, and attending social gatherings, so no attention is drawn to their sadness.

Remembering that you never know what people are genuinely going through or what’s happening inside their heads is essential. You may have even come across someone on the street or passed someone in the hall who is currently experiencing poor mental health, but you would never know because they continue to spread a smile on their face. The “most popular, mean girl in school” who appears to have the “perfect” life may go home to a tough family life. You never know what people are going through behind closed doors.

Know that if you are struggling with mental health, you are not alone. There are some small steps you can take to help improve your mental health:

Cut out toxicity from your life.

If you are included in a toxic group of friends, begin distancing yourself from them. No matter how hard it may seem to leave a group of girls or other relationships, healthy friendships will uplift you, not tear you down. Nothing is ever taken away from you without receiving something better.

Read that again.

Do things that make you happy and put a smile on your face.

When I am experiencing poor mental health, I do things for myself or tasks that I enjoy, such as working out, hanging out with positive and supportive friends, having movie nights with my family, cooking, or practicing yoga. Letting ourselves acquire a happy mood from doing the things we enjoy can help guide us to the beauty of life and remind us that we are worthy of goodness.

Take care of your body with sleep and nutrition.

Sleep helps your body and mind repair, restore and re-energize. The average person should sleep between seven and nine hours a night. Don’t let the demands of high school rob you of this time. Look ahead at your schedule for the week and set a realistic bedtime.

Good nutrition feeds your energy and self-image, but there is a better time to diet. Try eating healthier and minimizing the energy drinks (caffeine) and sugar you consume. While caffeine can boost your energy and help you feel more alert, high levels of caffeine can cause serious side effects like anxiety, headaches, and trouble sleeping. Sugar acts very similarly by bringing on an immediate surge of energy and a sense of pleasure, but when your blood sugar falls, you can feel sluggish, tired, and sad.

Poor mental health does not define who you are as a person.

Even when poor mental health seems to improve, it is important to remember that struggling does not affect our worth or dignity. Our lives have purpose and meaning, regardless of how we struggle or suffer.

Don’t close the door!

If you struggle immensely with mental health, know that it’s not something you must face alone. There is NO shame in reaching out for help – to trusted family, friends, teachers, or professional counselors. If you are struggling, don’t keep it behind closed doors – open up and let the light in!

Birthright St. Charles is a helpful resource in our local community that is here to help promote maternal mental health. We have professional counselors on staff because we believe in addressing and sustaining mental health, especially in times of crisis. If you are pregnant and struggling with mental health, PLEASE reach out. We are here to hear you.


teen to teen blogs

Teen To Teen is a series of blogs written by teen authors for teens on topics that matter most to them. Please Note: “Teen to Teen” should be considered peer-to-peer advice and support. It is not given in place of professional consult or care.

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