The Growing Need for Teen Therapy: Breaking Down Modern Stressors

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By Smharun121

In today’s world, being a teenager is no easy feat. Teens nowadays face challenges that are unique to their generation and can easily overwhelm them. Be it the stress of doing well at school or the constant need to maintain a social media presence, their life is no piece of cake.

Teenage is a transition phase from childhood to adulthood – a time of immense change, both physically and emotionally. It’s a period marked by rapid development, self-discovery, and the formation of identities. While this journey can be exciting, it also comes with its fair share of difficulties.

In the face of these challenges, teen therapy offers a safe and supportive space for us to explore our thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Below, we will explore why the need for teen therapy has been on a constant rise and examine the modern stressors contributing to it. Let’s get started.

Teen Mental Health – A Closer Look 

Teen mental health is a topic of increasing importance as we recognize the unique challenges and struggles that teenagers today face. Wondering exactly what we mean when we talk about mental health for teenagers?

While the concept of mental health is primarily the same for all humans regardless of age, the teenage is a particularly volatile phase of life. During this period of growth and development, it’s easy to get influenced emotionally and psychologically by their surroundings.

These influences affect how they think, feel, and act profoundly, and can also determine how they handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. 

In essence, good mental health allows teens to navigate the ups and downs of life with resilience and adaptability.

The COVID-19 isolation has to be a major stressor for all teenagers, with the limited interaction with the outside world impacting their mental health deeply. 

Beyond the lockdown, teens also experience overwhelming pressure to score good grades, perform well in extracurriculars, join elite colleges, and figure out their future.

Their jam-packed schedules nowadays leave little time and space for rest, relaxation, unstructured fun, and self-care. 

Just like adults, teenagers also experience a wide range of mental health issues, among which the prevalent ones are: 

Anxiety: excessive worry, fear, and physical symptoms like racing heartbeat, sweating, and trembling.

Depression: constant feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and loss of interest in all the activities once enjoyed.

Eating disorders: stemming from an unhealthy obsession with food, weight, and appearance and a distorted body image.

Self-harm: intentionally injuring oneself to manage overwhelming emotions or relieve emotional pain.

These are just a few examples of the mental health issues that teenagers may face. It’s important to recognize that mental health is complex and multifaceted, and each teenager’s experience will be unique.

What Modern Stressors Impact Teens?

Having taken a quick look at the mental health issues commonly noticed among teenagers, we’re here to dig deeper into their triggers. By “triggers” here, we mean the modern stressors that contribute to the growing mental health issues in teens.

Below, we’ll focus on 4 major modern stressors that closely impact teenagers: 

Academic Pressure

The pressure to do well in academics is perhaps one of the highest stressors for teenagers.

VeryWell Mind notes that students face an intensely competitive environment, especially in high school.

By taking up challenging courses, studying and acing college placements, and making life-changing future plans, they see stress as an unavoidable part of life.

And while they recognize the need to relieve their stress, they’re unable to make the time for it amidst their towering academic and social responsibilities.

Add to that the high expectations from parents, teachers, and peers, and you’ll get why they face the threat of stress, anxiety, and burnout.

Social Media 

Social media platforms and digital technologies undeniably play a central role in the lives of teenagers today. TorHoerman Law notes that these platforms (and the companies behind them) have risen as a massive influence in the past decade.

Platforms like Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram have been linked to a wide range of mental health issues, including unhealthy self-centeredness and depressive symptoms. Teenagers who interact with status-seeking content on these platforms are prone to suffer from social comparison.

An article published by Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health also expanded on how Instagram sent teenagers spiraling into anxiety and depression. 

If you’ve struggled with any of these issues after using Instagram, you’re eligible to file an Instagram lawsuit to seek compensation for it. The lawsuit alleges that the social media platform contributes to issues like low self-esteem, mood disorders, eating disorders, social anxiety, and sleeping problems among young users.

It also outlines how teenagers using social media platforms for over 2 hours a day are vulnerable to developing symptoms of loneliness and depression.

Peer Pressure

It is completely natural for teenagers to want to fit in and be acknowledged by peers. But the problem arises when this desire grows strong enough to push them to indulge in activities that could harm their well-being. This includes substance abuse, skipping school, risky sexual behavior, and participating in bullying.

Teens who are conscious about being judged or excluded by peers from their friend circle are more vulnerable to compensate for it ruthlessly. In many cases, it can even mean going against the values or beliefs they hold firmly.

Family Dynamics 

While family relationships are generally considered a source of support and love, they can also be a significant stressor for teenagers. 

Conflict between parents, divorce or separation, financial struggles, and high parental expectations can all create tension within the family environment. 

Feeling misunderstood or unsupported by family members worsens feelings of loneliness and isolation, impacting a teen’s mental well-being.

The Role of Teen Therapy

Teen therapy plays a vital role in supporting the mental health and well-being of teenagers. 

By providing a safe space for them to explore their thoughts and feelings, therapy nips the potential threat of developing mental health issues in the bud. 

Below, we’ll understand the primary therapeutic techniques that have proven to be effective in teen therapy.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a widely used therapeutic approach that focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors. 

This psychotherapy technique is based on the idea that a clear link can be established between our thoughts, feelings, and behavior. For instance, socially awkward teens are more likely to experience anxiety. 

It is also common for teenagers to develop distorted core beliefs about themselves – ones that are not rooted in reality. CBT helps teenagers recognize and confront these beliefs and modify them.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

DBT – an evidence-based therapy – was originally developed for people with Borderline Personality Disorder(BPD). However, over time, it has been adapted with slight modifications to cater to other mental health concerns as well.

DBT fits right in with teen therapy; it is where teenagers can learn to regulate their emotions and improve their tolerance towards distress. 

Furthermore, DBT can also help them imbibe mindfulness skills and interpersonal effectiveness. 

Mindfulness-based Approaches 

Therapists who deal with teenagers make it a point to integrate mindfulness techniques into the process. 

This is because it is not unusual for teenagers to struggle with present-moment awareness, which is exactly what these techniques help with.  Meditation and breathing exercises are the most common mindfulness techniques

These practices teach teens to pay close attention to their thoughts and emotions, without delving too deep into judgment. When done effectively, they can help significantly with reducing stress and promoting emotional regulation.

Teens struggling with impulsivity, anxiety, or depression can also benefit from it a great deal.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which age is most common for the onset of mental health illness?

Experts believe that 50% of all mental health illnesses begin at the age of 14, with another 25% commonly seen at the age of 24.

Why are mental health issues on the rise in the US? 

Mental health issues are on the rise in the US due to the growing prevalence of social media, and the COVID-19 pandemic. The societal trends that resulted in smaller family units and less community involvement further contribute to it.

Which is the hardest mental health illness to live with?

Experts state that Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is the hardest mental health illness to live with. Not only is the illness painful in itself, but it’s also worsened by the stigma and misunderstanding revolving around it.

To sum things up, the growing need for teen therapy underscores the importance of addressing the mental health challenges faced by today’s teenagers. It’s essential to recognize the modern stressors impacting their mental health and provide them with the resources and support they need to thrive.

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