Supporting Teen Girls’ Mental Health

By Lucie Hemmen, PhD, author of The Teen Girl’s Survival Journal

While being a teen girl has always had its challenges, today’s teen girl navigates a greater number of challenges than ever before. The world she lives in is a constant buzz of overstimulation, and the expectations placed on her—both real and perceived—keep her marinating in stress chemicals, often leading to sleepless nights and anxious overthinking. As a psychologist who works closely with teen girls, I’ve seen firsthand how deeply these pressures can affect their well-being and happiness.

Teen mental health problems are on the rise. Teen girls either experience these struggles firsthand or know several others who do. The reasons are many: busy schedules and the pressure to succeed, the constant pull of devices, social media and the never-ending stabs of social comparison, a lack of coping skills and healthy habits, insufficient sleep, social and family stress, a lack of supportive resources, and worries about the future.

While our culture rightly focuses on mental illness awareness, this often leads teen girls to concentrate solely on what feels wrong, leaving them feeling overwhelmed and defined by their struggles. It’s crucial to remember that, just like physical health, mental health can be built and strengthened through healthy habits.

With the right guidance, teen girls can learn and practice mental health habits that enhance their well-being, boost their confidence, and build resilience. This shift from focusing on illness to fostering health is vital. Our culture needs to provide teens with clear, actionable information, structured self-reflection, and practical ideas that they can easily incorporate into their lives.

This realization inspired me to create The Teen Girl’s Survival Journal. Putting this journal together was a rewarding challenge, as I aimed to provide bite-sized psychological insights to raise mental health awareness. Each insight is followed by prompts for self-reflection and exercises, challenges, and fun activities designed to help girls integrate these concepts into their daily lives.

This offering to teen girls is habit-based, because the more solid, healthy habits they collect and practice, the better mental health they create for themselves. Even better, their brain rewires for the new habits they practice, and so does their nervous system. As they swap out not-great mental health habits for solid ones, they’ll experience the power to improve the way they feel at a structural level. What we all want for teen girls is a sense of balance and empowerment as they care for their mental and physical health. Balance comes from nurturing the health they already have while discovering new ways to enhance and sustain it. Empowerment blooms from learning and practicing new habits, giving them a sense of control and authorship over how they feel.

Lucie Hemmen, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in Santa Cruz, CA. For more than twenty years she has worked with teens, their parents, and their communities in programs designed to maximize health and well-being. She is mother of two daughters, and author of Parenting a Teen Girl, The Teen Girl’s Survival Guide, and The Teen Girl’s Anxiety Survival Guide.

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