Challenges approach us every day in life. As teenagers, we often face challenges that revolve around relationships, sports, peer pressure, bullying, obesity, school stressors, the list goes on. It is important to remember that these challenges do not mean the world is ending. In fact, most of our challenges are temporary, and with a little bit of work, we can overcome our difficulties.

A rising topic surrounding our teenage world today is mental health. All teens Anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues have been more and more in teens. Our brains are begging for a breather, but many of us are so that we forget to care for our brains.

Mental health is just as important as physical health. Every teen knows that a broken arm requires a cast and time for healing. What about our brains? Do we know how to support the part of our body that is arguably the most important? Every teen should know the basics of dealing with a mental health issue, but not all of us do.

Take it from me. I am a teen, and I am struggling with many of the same challenges as you. Over the past few years, I have found there are 10 main things that every teen should know about dealing with a mental health issue. These tips apply to teens who are struggling with their mental health maintenance as well as teens who know somebody who is struggling with their mental health maintenance. Here are my top 10!

Teens Who Are Struggling with a Mental Health Issue

1. Asking for help when dealing with a mental health issue is a sign of strength.

It takes so much effort and bravery to step forward and admit that you may not be able to handle your challenges all on your own. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking someone for help. Sometimes, we as teens, are afraid to speak up. We might think we are bothering others or becoming a burden for others. We fear that people will think we are weak because we cannot do everything by ourselves.

For three months straight, I cried every single day at school. I refused help. I was embarrassed to say that my troubles were too much for me to handle. I finally reached the point when I found acceptance of help. It was at that moment when I felt that I wasn’t alone for the first time in months. Asking for help takes courage, and it will never be a sign of weakness.

2. Living a healthy lifestyle helps keep your mind balanced.

During the teenage years, things are constantly changing, and we are constantly developing. We are growing, and we are becoming more independent. It is our responsibility to make sure we are making healthy choices.

We need an adequate amount of sleep. I have spent many nights staying up far too late, and my brain is unclear the next morning. I have a hard time focusing at school, and at times, I even become a bit bratty. My solution was simple. Get to bed at a decent hour!

We also need an adequate amount of exercise. Physical activity has been proven to be a great way to release stress. It helps me feel better inside and out. Good nutrition has helped me to feel better inside and out as well.

When dealing with a mental health issue, I have found my #1 way to keep my mind balanced is sticking to a schedule/routine. I stay busy, so that my mind is distracted from the fixations I have on the negativity that exists in my life. I get dressed every single day, so that I feel productive. This prevents me from feeling overwhelmingly depressed. I also set goals. Setting goals always brings me a sense of accomplishment, and our minds desperately need that positivity.

3. You have power.

“I have control over my life.” “I am smart.” “I am unique.” “I have a purpose!” Telling yourself these affirmations everyday is the best reminder that you have power.

We all possess incredibly positive qualities. They should not be overlooked. They should be constant reminders that you can overcome and that positive outcomes are possible.

As I dealt (and continue to deal) with my mental health challenges, I think about all the great things about myself. I remember being told that I was ugly, dumb, and worthless. For the longest time, those were the only words I listened to.I came to realize that my power trumped those words. I am capable of proving everyone wrong. It took a little bit of determination, but a mental health issue did not defeat me. That is because I used power to thrive.

4. There are tons of different coping skills for managing mental health.

Mental health issues are manageable. There are so many avenues that can be taken to find out how to manage your mental health. Identifying your best coping skills makes the biggest difference. I spent months trying to find coping skills that would ease my mind. I finally found that music is my passion. Writing songs, playing guitar, and recording new creations brought me to a place where I felt there was light. To this day, listening to music is still my favorite coping skill. Ultimately, I am living a happy life now. I don’t feel much stress, and that is because music eases the stressors in my life.

My overall mental health is boosted by music, but that was not the only way I learned to manage my mental health state. I dedicated time to going to therapy, so I could talk about my struggles with someone who would listen. I also practice mindfulness and see a psychiatrist on a regular basis. Tracking my mood by journaling was also a great way I managed my progress.

5. Surrounding yourself with people that are healthy for you makes the recovery process smoother.

Bullying and unhealthy relationships make it much harder to deal with a mental health issue.

Finding friends who support you and treat you kindly helps to keep positivity in your life. It takes away a lot of the pain that comes with experiencing a mental health issue. Maybe speak more to support, support groups, family as a support.  Want to be mindful not to oversimplify and say that support in and of itself takes away the pain of a mental health issue.

Teens Who Know Someone Who is Dealing with a Mental Health Issue

1. Teens struggling with mental health issues are often misunderstood by peers.

Provide yourself with a better understanding of mental health in general. The more you know, the less you judge. Our ignorance should not be the reason that prevents us from understanding a peer.

As teens, we are also quick to judge. Lacking knowledge of someone is not an excuse to judge that person. Lending a hand to someone who is struggling creates an atmosphere that is comforting rather than intimidating.

2. Spreading awareness reduces stigma.

Stigma surrounds our teenage world. In order to erase the stigma, we need to increasethe awareness. One way to do this is by starting or joining a mental health club on your school campus. There are mental health clubs such as NAMI on Campus that have been created already. Joining a club of that nature, or starting your own, is a great step forward in reducing the stigma that surrounds mental health.

It is also important to refer to others by their name, or the name they have clearly stated they would like to be called. Labeling and branding is a common form of stigma among teens that causes hurt and pain for others. Names such as psycho, crazy, retarded, etc. are unacceptable. Respect is necessary.

3. Your friend may be feeling emotions that prevent them from talking to you.

Handle your friend with care. They may need space, but be sure to let them know that you are there for them. Give your genuine love and support to them.

Try to include your friends in activities you are participating in or at least invite them. The worst feeling is when you are treated like an outcast.

It is very difficult to open up about a mental health issue. Giving your friend time might be the best route. Your friend is probably overwhelmed, which can cause isolation. That might be why they are not as quick to converse with you.

4. Your support consistency really helps the person who is experiencing a mental health issue.

Consistent support gives the person a rock, a shoulder to lean on. Keeping an open mind allows you to see how your friend might be feeling.

Teens who are suffering from a mental health challenge want someone who genuinely cares for them. They need someone who WANTS to help them instead of someone who feels like they have to help them.

5. Leading a positive life can be contagious.

Dealing with a mental health issue can be extremely overwhelming. Bringing positive vibes with you is a great way to boost your friend’s mood. Positivity is a route to finding hope and seeing the light in every situation, or at the end of the tunnel, etc..

Setting an example of a positive life can be an eye-opener for the person who is struggling.

This list of 10 things that every teen should know about dealing with a mental health issue is just a start. Add to this list as you learn new things about mental health. Take away anything you feel doesn’t fit your lifestyle. Just remember to do everything with purpose, love, and care!

Christine Marie Frey (pronounced: Fry) also known as Christine XP, is the Teen International Award-Winning Author of BRAIN XP: Living with Mental Illness, A Young Teenager’s Perspective. It is the first mental health book written by a teen reaching out to other teens. She started showing signs of anxiety, depression, and psychosis at age 12. Her isolation led her to create the BRAIN XP Project. BRAIN XP provides hope to youth battling mental health challenges, letting them know they are NOT alone or crazy. But rather their brains are special. Their brains are EXPANDED with creativity, empathy, and insight. Christine is an engaging public speaker, musical recording artist, and mental health activist.