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Teen Health and Safety

Advice from Meg Donnelly on Nurturing Mental Health as A Teen

Photos: Courtesy of The Riker Brothers

One of the most common mental health issues plaguing teenagers today is anxiety. In psychiatry, anxiety is “a nervous disorder characterized by a state of excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behavior or panic attacks.” 

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect over 25 percent of children between the ages of 13 and 18. This malady negatively impacts school performance, social interaction, interpersonal communication, self-esteem and many other facets of everyday life. 

No stranger to mental health problems at a young age, Disney star and American Housewife actress Meg Donnelly offers her advice on spotting anxiety in your teens and addressing the issue proactively. 

Meg recalls having stomach aches and panic attacks as a child. She credits her parents’ constant support for getting her through the toughest times. 

As a parent of a teenager, remaining tuned into your child’s life and behavior is paramount to spotting any mental health red flags early. If you’re a teen yourself, pay close attention to your feelings. Some of the most common symptoms of anxiety and declining mental health are: Sudden mood or appetite changes, disinterest in social interaction or participating in activities you (or your child) used to enjoy, heart palpitations or trouble breathing (though these signs should be addressed by a medical professional immediately to rule out any physical disease or threats) and trouble concentrating or declining school grades.

One of the main reasons those in the millennial and teen generations are facing more anxiety than ever is social media. As Meg says, “Trolls are everywhere. There is always going to be one negative comment or dislike. You just have to remember that it’s their problem; it’s not you.” Meg also speaks about the fact that young girls often feel more pressure to post frequent pictures. She advises teens to only post things they actually like and are comfortable with sharing. 

Here are some helpful tips that Meg has learned about dealing with teen anxiety.  

1. Seek help

Early treatment can lead to long-lasting mental health benefits.

2. Put your phone down

It is okay to log-off and focus on taking care of yourself.

3. Protect your privacy

Meg laments, “Keeping your entire life on your phone is terrifying.” Private information leaks can lead to immense stress, especially for teens. 

4. Begin a relaxation regimen

This may entail practices such as yoga, YouTube meditation videos and journaling. 

5. Talk to someone

Talk to a therapist or trusted family member or friend about any fear, anxiety, stress or depression issues you have. Remember, there is no shame in admitting you’re having trouble. In fact, most people you communicate with likely experience similar problems. 

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