Teen Health and Wellness

For the first time in many years, the American Psychological Association (APA) has issued strong recommendations for helping young people navigate the use of social media due to its impact on teen health and wellness. With the month of May as Mental Health Awareness Month, the impact of teen mental health has never been more concerning. The rise in the influence of social media along with the effects of the pandemic, have created a catalyst for serious mental health conditions in young people.

The number of teens and young adults reporting poor mental health is on the rise. Since 2010, conditions such as anxiety, depression and loneliness have increased alarmingly. The need to help our young people build stronger bonds and connections can protect and prevent dangerous mental health conditions. There is mounting evidence of this rapid increase in mental health disturbances coinciding with the uptake of new technology. Increased usage of smartphones and increased engagement in social media can worsen or even be the cause of many mental health disorders.

A group of four young people with helmets and a backpack, riding bikes on a trail outdoors represents teen health and wellness.

The most common mental health conditions in teens and young people include ADHD, anxiety, depression and eating disorders. Young people often face overwhelming pressure socially and culturally. They face pressure to achieve good grades and the need to excel on their sports teams and activities. Other environmental factors include persistent fear of climate change, global conflicts, gun violence and discrimination based on race, gender and sexual orientation. In addition to social media influences, all of these factors contribute to mental health disturbances in young adults.

The Impact of social media on Teen Mental Health and Substance Addiction

Scientists and researchers are still working on narrowing down which aspects of social media are the most problematic and contributing to the negative health effects of young people. However, studies have shown that more hours spent engaging with social media platforms such as Instagram and TikTok are associated with high risks for mental health disorders.

In 2021, an estimated 42% of students reported feelings of sadness or hopelessness. 29% of students reported experiencing poor mental health. And 22% of students reported seriously considering suicide.

Mental health problems are often closely linked to the development of substance use disorders. About 15% of high school students reported using illicit substances such as cocaine, heroin and meth. About 14% of students say they misused prescription opioids. And an estimated 30% of young people say they tried alcohol.

Signs a Young Person may have a Mental Health Disorder

  • Significant changes in sleep, eating habits or daily patterns.
  • The loss of interest in the things that were once loved.
  • Withdrawing from friends, family and community including canceling plans with friends and family with little or no explanation.  
  • Struggling academically.
  • Experiencing running thoughts or worries that will not go away.
  • Hanging around new friends who engage in risky behaviors.
  • Refusing to openly talk about what is happening and their behavioral changes.
  • Obsession with a certain goal.
  • Signs of drug and alcohol abuse.
  • Signs of self-harm or injury.
  • Sexual activity or interest that is new or more intense.
  • Sometimes biological and hormonal changes can also be a contributing factor to the development of a mental health condition.

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Guidelines from the APA for Helping Young People Safely Navigate Social Media

Research has found there are a few factors that parents, educators, physicians and platform developers can do to help decrease the risk of mental health disorders. 

What can social media developers do to help? Studies suggest that social media platforms should take into consideration youth development capabilities when considering their audiences. 

What can schools and educators do to help? Schools should be equipped to help students with emergencies and provide a safe and supportive environment. 

What can parents do to help? Creating open lines of communication for open and honest discussions helps keep parents in the loop with what their student spends time doing. 

What can healthcare providers to do help? Medical professionals should ask young people about their family and social relationships and include educating parents about youth development and health risk factors.

Mental Health Awareness Month Tips

How to open up a conversation with your teen or young adult about their mental health if you think they may be struggling:

  • Create a safe, open and understanding environment for your teen to feel comfortable discussing tough issues.
  • Do more listening than speaking. Sometimes your teen or young person just needs someone to listen to them to vent about their problems, not necessarily a person to tell them what to do.
  • Avoid putting your teen in a defensive position.  
  • Accept that sometimes silence is part of how the young person is learning to cope with his/her issues.  
  • Understand that mental health stigma still exists and create ways to let your teen know that it is ok to talk about it.

Reach out to Hotel California by the Sea

We specialize in treating addiction and other co-occurring disorders, such as PTSD. Our Admissions specialists are available to walk you through the best options for treating your addiction.

Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month has been observed in the US since 1949. This year’s campaign led by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is promoting the slogan #morethanenough. No matter what your diagnosis appearance, socioeconomic status, background or abilities, “what you did today was more than enough.” Its goal is to bring more awareness of mental health and break down stereotypes and stigma. The campaign also wants to spread the message of how mental health is an essential element to overall health and wellness for teens.

Hotel California by the Sea offers treatment programs for young adults with co-occurring mental health conditions. Mental health and substance use disorders are common co-occurring conditions in teens and young adults. Through rigorous programs such as detox, residential and outpatient programming, young people have the opportunities to heal from their addictions.

Specialized treatments such as EMDR therapy and group therapy can be especially beneficial for young people struggling with addiction and mental health conditions. These therapies target the root cause of their issues and help young people develop the skills they need to cope and manage triggering emotions. Mental health conditions play a significant role in the health and development of young adults. Hotel California by the Sea offers a wide range of treatment plans to help combat the rise in mental health disorders and alcohol and drug addiction.