Published May 2023
Improving Adolescent Mental Health by Promoting Self-Care
For the second week of National Adolescent Health Month™ (NAHM™), the Office of Population Affairs (OPA) is sharing information and resources that support adolescent mental health. May is also Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health is a crucial part of overall health and well-being. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need to address the mental health of young people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that suicidal thoughts and behaviors are increasing among 9th through 12th grade students. In 2021, 42% of students. In 2021, 42% of students felt persistently sad or hopeless and 22% of students seriously considered attempting suicide.
Community organizations, governments, families and caregivers, employers, and young people can all be part of the solution to improve youth mental health. This can include addressing societal challenges, strengthening the resilience of young people, supporting families and communities, and mitigating the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Practicing self-care can help adolescents manage their own health and well-being. Self-care practices help people manage stress, regulate emotions, sustain energy levels, and avoid or treat illnesses. Adults can support adolescents in their daily lives by:
- Helping adolescents process and reflect on their thoughts and feelings, including journaling, creating art or music, and seeing a counselor.
- Assisting young people with staying organized to avoid stress, including creating a budget, using a productivity app, or color-coding learning materials.
- Encouraging relaxation to reduce stress symptoms including doing a deep breathing exercise, visualizing a calming place, or repeating affirmations.
- Maintaining or improving physical health, including doing yoga or other exercise, limiting screen use before bedtime, and trying a nutritious recipe.
- Suggesting activities that engage the brain, such as playing a word game, reading a book, or learning a new language or hobby.
- Nurturing healthy relationships, including having a regular family dinner, joining a school club, and learning a new dance with friends.
- Giving young people time for spiritual development, including doing a guided meditation, going to a place of worship, and spending time in nature.
Caring adults can facilitate positive self-care practices to help support the mental health of young people. Communities, schools, health care providers, and youth-serving professionals can support these practices by:
- Making safe spaces for sports and recreational activities.
- Sharing stress management and mindfulness strategies with families.
- Offering virtual or mobile locations for accessing mental health and other essential health services.
- Using and sharing resources for promoting self-care and mental health.
HHS Launches the Children and Youth Resilience Challenge
Promoting youth resilience is critical to avoiding long-term negative mental health outcomes. The HHS Children and Youth Resilience Challenge is intended to fund innovative community-led solutions to promote resilience in children and adolescents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and other disasters. The Resilience Challenge is recognized as part of the President’s Unity Agenda and Mental Health Strategy. It will include a proposal phase and a pilot phase for selected finalists. Proposals are due Friday, July 7, 2023.
Young People Talked with ADM Levine about Mental Health
In July 2021, OPA hosted the annual Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) Grantee Conference. During the conference, HHS Assistant Secretary for Health, Admiral Rachel L. Levine, MD, and youth participants in OPA's TPP grantee programs discussed youth mental health.
Share messages about National Adolescent Health Month
Please join us in celebrating NAHM by sharing our social media and newsletter messages during May. Don't forget to tag OPA on Twitter (@HHSPopAffairs) and use the NAHM hashtags in your posts: #NationalAdolescentHealthMonth and #HealthyYouthNAHM.
- Better information and improved access to services will help adolescents make informed decisions about their sexual and #ReproductiveHealth. Learn more from @HHSPopAffairs. https://bit.ly/3KHteAg #NationalAdolescentHealthMonth #HealthyYouthNAHM
- Youth-serving professionals and healthcare providers play an important role in connecting young people with sexual and #ReproductiveHealth services and giving them accurate information. https://bit.ly/3KHteAg #NationalAdolescentHealthMonth #HealthyYouthNAHM
Better information and improved access to services will help adolescents—with the support of their parents and caregivers—make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health and well-being. During the first week of National Adolescent Health Month™ learn more about expanding sexual and reproductive health information and services from the Office of Population Affairs. https://bit.ly/3KHteAg
Help Expand Sexual and Reproductive Health Information and Services for Adolescents During the first week of National Adolescent Health Month™ (NAHM™), the Office of Population Affairs focuses on the importance of expanding sexual and reproductive health information and services. Better information and improved access to services will help adolescents—with the support of their parents and caregivers—make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health and well-being.
Sample NAHM Graphics:
National Adolescent Health Month™, NAHM™, and the NAHM logo are trademarks of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Use of these marks without prior approval by HHS is strictly prohibited.