| By Gale Staff |
When parents bring up milestones like first steps in front of their teen, it’s embarrassing. As an analogy for self-care and managing their own mental well-being, it fits. Teen mental health is said to be in crisis on the tail of the COVID-19 pandemic, the growing number of school shootings in the United States, and unrest in the world. The increase in demand for therapists and the rise of telehealth in the last few years have highlighted the escalating number of diagnoses and teens living with mental health challenges. Adults can’t always make things better—nor should they. The focus on resilience in youth is growing too, and it has become obvious to adults and teens that self-care in conjunction with mental health care goes a long way in addressing the whole person, giving agency to teens, and significantly supporting positive long-term outcomes.
Empowering Teen Mental Fitness (ETMF) is a series of three eBooks that offer options to teens looking for ways to support and build their mental fitness through self-care strategies they pick and choose. The series was created with the sole purpose of providing the right sort of strategies for common mental health challenges in the hope that Gale could offer useful tools to teens that can be incorporated into their daily routines. The series was inspired by the overwhelming popularity of Cameron’s Collection — a collection of eBooks for youth and teens covering mental health topics—and the desire to create Gale content that would fit well in the collection, fill a gap, and add to its usefulness, along with the knowledge that teens want to own their personal mental health journey.
There are strategies offered all over the internet. ETMF pulled top searches from Google and from Cameron’s Collection to develop a list of the most common mental health challenges in teens. We took a preliminary list and a series of questions to librarians purchasing products for students and asked them what their students often requested. We refined those results by seeking the expertise of therapists working professionally with teens and in the school system.
ETMF is the result of following the data and realizing that “going small” rather than “going big” was the way to offer self-care strategies to teens. ETMF is a start. Each eBook covers four common mental health conditions. Each chapter provides strategies in managing oneself through small steps, such as journaling, yoga, meditation, exercise, outreach/group activities, and other strategies specific to the chapter topic.
ETMF eBooks also focus on normalizing the challenges by driving home how common these mental health conditions are in the world and in teens. Statistics are given. In each chapter, ETMF highlights public figures popular with teens who have been open about their own mental health journeys and have had similar challenges.
Experiencing anxiety, depression, stress, suicidal ideation, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bullying, obsessive-compulsive disorder, addiction, eating disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, trauma, and the negative perils of social media can feel isolating and overwhelming individually. Medical care can and does do so much to treat the individual and help overcome the stigma of having these conditions. Taking extra steps by creating a daily practice or routine that fits one’s lifestyle goes a long way toward building resilience and overall mental fitness and well-being.
Going into the holiday season and looking ahead to a new year is traditionally a time to set goals and new intentions. Not all will stick. However, with all the first steps, there is a tentativeness that, with practice and repetition, builds more confidence and sure-footedness.