Building bridges: how to listen to teens and support their mental health

6 min read
February 28, 2023

World Teen Mental Health Day is an important reminder of the challenges young people face when it comes to their mental health. As parents, educators, and caring adults, it's important that we create a safe and supportive environment for teens to share their struggles and seek help when needed. One of the best ways to do this is by becoming better listeners.

Listening is a powerful tool for building relationships, establishing trust, and showing empathy. It's especially important when it comes to talking to teenagers about their mental health, as many teens may not feel comfortable or may fear being judged. When we listen, we demonstrate that we value their thoughts and feelings, and we create a safe space where they can be themselves.

So, how can we become better listeners for the teens in our lives? Here are a few tips:

  1. Create a judgment-free zone: Make it clear that whatever they share with you is safe and that you're there to help them. Try to avoid jumping to conclusions or making assumptions.
  2. Be present and focused: Give your full attention to the teen when they're talking. Turn off your phone, close your laptop, and really listen to what they're saying.
  3. Validate their feelings: Let the teen know that their feelings are important and that you understand what they're going through. Avoid telling them what to do or minimizing their experiences.
  4. Ask open-ended questions: Encourage the teen to talk more about what's on their mind by asking open-ended questions. This can help them feel heard and supported.
  5. Be patient: Sometimes it takes time for teens to open up. Don't push too hard or get frustrated if they don't want to talk right away. Let them know you're available whenever they're ready.

By becoming better listeners, we can help support the mental health of the teens in our lives. Remember, it's okay to not have all the answers, but being there to listen and support is a great place to start. Let's work together to create a world where teens feel heard, valued, and supported.

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