Did you know that low self esteem in teens can pose many effects on their mental health?
Self-esteem is intrinsically tied to mental health – our self-worth is not just a reflection of how we see ourselves but can reflect on how we see the world, how we perceive opportunities and react to certain circumstances, and how resilient we become to outer stressors.
Greater self-confidence and healthier self-esteem can help a person cope with more hardship, get back up after setbacks, and better stand up to life’s challenges. Conversely, struggling to retain any pride or suffering from insecurity can make it that much harder to contend with life’s more difficult moments and makes it harder to refute or fight back in times of anxiety or depression.
Studies show us that self-esteem and mental health are strongly correlative – when one is down, so is the other. But there’s also evidence to suggest that the reverse can be true: by improving your self-esteem, you can improve your mental health. And by improving your mental health, you may make it easier to work on your self-esteem.
Let’s look at some of the ways low self in teens has an impact.
Which Came First?
When it comes to self-esteem and mental health in teens, it is a little bit of a chicken-and-egg situation.
Which is more likely? That low self esteem in teens caused them to be more perceptible to stressors that led to a mental health issue? Or that their self-esteem is a reflection of existing mental health problems, such as a precursor of depressive symptoms in the formative years?
Sadly, it’s very difficult to tell – and it might not matter much in treatment.
For example, depression, like other mental health issues, is a multifactor problem. Inner issues, such as genes and a behavioral predisposition towards negative thinking, as well as outer problems, such as victimization, stress, trauma, or abuse, all contribute to a depressive cycle.
Treatment Modalities for Teen Mental Health
In the same way, treatment for certain mental health issues will require the use of several modalities.
There’s the therapeutic aspect:
- Talking to a therapist, learning to regulate your mood, identify harmful thinking patterns, and use affirmations and more positive ways of thinking.
Then there’s the pharmacological aspect:
- Utilizing antidepressants to reduce the severity of depressive symptoms.
And the use of non-therapeutic methods in long-term depression management:
- Forest walking, spending time with your pet, journaling, long walks with friends, better sleep schedules, a good diet, and taking a break from a stressful habit.
Self-esteem is one important facet of a larger set of factors that might help determine a teen’s mental health. Having healthy self-esteem is important and should not be mistaken for narcissism or grandiose thinking.
For example, someone with narcissistic tendencies – someone who might qualify for narcissistic personality disorder – will usually struggle with major insecurities, and part of their behavior and presented self-image hides a deeper fear that they cannot own up to that image, leading them to lash out when confronted about it.
Healthy self-esteem can be promoted through therapy and non-therapeutic activities alike, including skills-building and social activities.
Improving Low Self Esteem in Teens to Boost Mental Health
There are a million analogies for understanding how your sense of self reflects on your attitudes and behaviors regarding the world around you. In the simplest psychological terms, everything we experience is filtered through our perspective, and the more we struggle to internalize positive qualities within ourselves, the more we struggle to see the good and fortune in everyday circumstances. It can become a dangerous and self-destructive cycle over time.
Addressing self-esteem problems does not have to start in a therapist’s office. Low self esteem in teens can be identified long before serious mental health symptoms, and in many cases, they’re completely normal. Most teens are self-conscious and insecure, and it is part and parcel of growing up and learning to live in your own skin.
Yet certain teens are more confident than others, and a lack of self-confidence can be a strong indicator of future problems, mental health issues, and an even lower quality of life. Here’s how you can change that.
1. Learn a New Skill
One of the quickest ways to improve your self-esteem and work on your self-confidence is to teach yourself something new. It could be a relatively lofty goal, like achieving your first backflip, or something a little simpler, like learning to use an image editing tool to improve your scanned drawings.
With free online resources all over the Internet and YouTube, there are countless things you can learn to do in just a few days of practice. You don’t have to show them off or compete with anyone but yourself. Pick anything you’re interested in and achieve a minor goal – then work up to something bigger!
2. Improve an Old Skill
Let’s say you’ve already spent a few years learning to draw or know how to play a few tabs on the guitar. Hone those skills! Pick a goal for your existing hobbies or skills, and let that goal revitalize your interest.
Simply spending time to improve on something that you like doing can be immensely gratifying and can help cement the crucial concept that no matter how you might feel about yourself today, you’re always capable of greater things than you might expect.
3. Find Healthy Communities
Learning to approach the problem of achieving a new goal will usually lead to questions and the experiences of others. That’s how many communities are shaped and grown.
Entire communities online revolve around teaching parkour skills to one another, sharing drawing techniques, or finding new ways to reduce run times on “speedruns” of retro video games. These communities are full of people sharing their successes and failures, their trials, and their victories. Those experiences can help you, as well, to find other people with similar interests and to push yourself. If you struggle with consistency in a new habit or skill, finding a community can help you maintain that drive toward achieving your goals.
4. Talk To Your Friends
The more a person struggles with low thoughts, the more likely they are to isolate themselves. But this usually leads to even worse symptoms of self-deprecation and lower self-esteem. We need our friends to help us formulate a better and healthier sense of self – no man is an island!
5. Stop Negative Self-Talk
Negative thoughts are a common aspect of depressive thinking and many mental health issues. It becomes part and parcel of the day to blame yourself for everything, but that second nature can be very harmful.
Like positive affirmations, negative ones can reinforce negative thoughts and negative behaviors.
If you’re late with a book report, don’t call yourself lazy or stupid. Don’t get upset about procrastinating or forgetting. Take a deep breath. Focus on the task at hand. Ask for an extension.
Whenever the urge comes to insult yourself – no matter what the context might be – stop it. Not only is it not productive, but it can be actively harmful to your mental health, no matter how much you might feel you “deserve” chastising yourself.
6. Talk to a Therapist
For teens with low self-esteem, it can be hard to remember that how they might see themselves is not necessarily a true reflection of who they are, and compliments or comments from others get brushed aside amidst instances of criticism or negative attention.
You don’t need to have a formal diagnosis to talk to a professional. People can and do seek out a therapist’s help without struggling with major depressive disorder or conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). A therapist can help you sort out your emotions, learn to manage irrational thoughts or separate impulses from smarter decision-making, and learn to implement habits and thinking patterns that control some of your worst tendencies, especially if you tend to see the worst in yourself and/or others.
Get Help at Visions Treatment Centers
Don’t be afraid to ask someone for help, whether it’s a professional, someone at school, or your parents. If you know a friend or have a loved one who consistently struggles with self-confidence, help them build that confidence through some of the activities mentioned above or by talking to someone together.
For more information about low self esteem in teens or how to get help, visit Visions Treatment Centers.