Resilience is a skill that can be learned at any age. Building resilience can help us cope in the aftermath of tragedy and trauma, and it can help us maintain mental health. With World Teen Mental Wellness Day in mind, let’s consider how we can help the teens in our lives develop resilience.
What Is Resilience?
Resilience is the ability to cope with difficult situations in a healthy way. Resilient people can adapt well to changes and bounce back after experiencing adversity.
It’s also important to cover what resilience is not. Resilience doesn’t mean you don’t experience stress, hurt, or trauma. Being resilient is not the same as bottling up your feelings, nor is it about never asking for help. As we’ll cover later, expressing your feelings and asking others for support can actually help you become more resilient.
People that develop resilience aren’t necessarily “stronger,” and there should never be shame in lacking resilience. However, the development of resilience can benefit your teen’s mental health and help them cope with hardships. In essence, the ability of a young person to adapt positively in the face of significant risk or adversity is a hallmark of resilience development.
Resilience is not something people are born with - it’s a skill that can be learned and practiced over time. So, if you feel the youth in your life needs further help to develop their resilience, the good news is that it is something you can help them work on.
Why Is Resilience Important for Teen Mental Health?
Resilience itself doesn’t protect from pain, hardship, or trauma - but it can help in the coping process.
When teens are resilient, they can cope better with overwhelming problems and hurt. As a result, they can:
- Process upsetting situations in a healthier way.
- Reach out for help when needed.
- Cope with stress.
- Avoid negative self-talk and unhealthy thought patterns.
- Maintain healthy habits, even after hardship.
- Resist self-destructive, unhealthy coping mechanisms.
A 2022 study found that those who have developed resilience are more likely to have better overall well-being than those who have not. In addition, a 2021 study that surveyed 1,032 college students during the pandemic concluded that emotional resilience was linked to reduced stress and greater life satisfaction.
Finding Professional Help
Counseling services and therapy are also great tools to help teens build resilience, especially if a parent doesn't feel equipped to do so.
The APA actually points out that the availability and quality of social resources can play a huge role in whether someone develops resilience. As such, it’s worth looking for and taking advantage of state and locally-provided resources in your area, like Multisystemic Therapy (MST).
MST is a program that helps children, teens, and their families address specific problems while assessing and addressing risk factors. MST can help teens build resilience by gaining life skills when needed, teaching those in the ecology to support newly developed skills, and finding support within the school ecology as needed. The objective of MST treatment is to equip the teen and the caregivers with the knowledge and skills to maintain long-term success without needing additional services upon discharge.
If you or someone you know is interested in learning more, contact us here.