Adolescence can be a challenging time for many boys as they experience the onset of puberty and must navigate new social situations. Many boys feel confused during this time and need extra support. Parents should be available to answer questions and reassure their teenage sons whether they’re on the right path or need a change of direction. When boys don’t have that support, they can feel isolated and alone and become depressed or turn to drugs. These adverse situations play a significant role in the current mental health crisis.
Parents must learn about adolescent boys’ mental health struggles and how support and physical well-being can help them feel happy and comfortable in their skin.
Anyone spending time around adolescent boys, whether parents, teachers, counselors, or other figures, must be aware. Teen boys are coming into their own during these years, and they need the support of the adults in their lives.
The results of surveys completed over several years have shown an increase in depression among children 12-17 years of age. Researchers believe that numerous factors, from puberty and sex hormones to stress, can often be the culprit. They also believe that depression and mental health issues may become more significant as youth today experience isolation and other factors associated with COVID-19, police violence within their communities, and more.
Adults must also be aware that poor mental health can manifest itself in many ways in adolescent boys. It can be a condition like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) that leads to chronic inactivity and interferes with family relationships. Or it could be a mood disorder, like depression. Anxiety can be a big issue centered around school and everyday life or traumatic stress from violence in the past. These issues also affect adults, but they can be much more complicated for a teenage boy experiencing so many new things about himself.
Adults can help boys get through their adolescent years and help them avoid many of these mental health challenges by being involved and staying in constant communication. In many cases, boys may not realize they’re dealing with a deeper mental health issue. Even if they do, many keep it inside due to male mental health stigma.
Men of many ages fall into a dynamic of being less open with friends, family, or school faculty about their depressive symptoms out of concern for being looked down upon. Even if they want to say something, they may not have the vocabulary to describe their feelings. Adults involved with adolescents must be alert for the signs of potential mental health issues and reach out for a heart-to-heart if they see them.
Signs of poor mental health can include frequent mood swings, irritability, or a sudden loss of interest in the activities they used to enjoy. There can also be physical manifestations such as sudden head or stomach aches. Keep an eye on any unusual behaviors, and if you see them, ask him how he’s feeling and actively listen to his concerns.
In addition to communicating with your kids, you can also focus on the factors that help young people stay mentally fit, which they can pair with physical activity. For instance, boys with high self-confidence and positive peer relationships tend to have fewer issues. You can help boys gain these attributes by encouraging them to participate in team sports at school. If the kids aren’t sports-minded, you can encourage them to engage in other positive social activities that will keep them physically active, such as a nature club or disc golf.
Outdoor activity can be great for the mind and spirit. Like adults, many kids feel calmer just by being around green spaces because it brings them back to a more natural place where much of life’s stress can melt away. Studies have shown that exposure to natural settings can reduce ADHD symptoms. There are even wilderness therapy programs that can help kids re-center and stay on the straight and narrow.
The more exercise boys can get, the better because even casual sports and playing outside can help build muscle, strengthen bones, and improve motor skills and physical coordination. As they get fit, young men will feel better about themselves and like what they see in the mirror, which can lead to the improved self-confidence they need to thrive.
Spending time outside is essential, but it’s only part of promoting physical development during adolescence. Teenage boys also need to eat right by having a diet full of fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean meats, and grains to grow big and strong. They also need to drink a lot of water, get the necessary immunizations on time, and boost their immune system by getting enough sleep. So, ensure that they do all of the above. The better boys feel, the more willing they may be to get outdoors or exercise so their moods can continue improving.
It’s essential to give adolescent boys the best chance of success as they age and grow into their own. Give them the tools to succeed now, and they’ll carry them on into adulthood.
About the Author: Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specializing in lifestyle, mental health, education, and fitness-related content. When she isn’t writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter, @KatieBWrites93.
Image Source: Unsplash
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