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  • Jenna Sindle

Building Resilience is the Most Important Part of an Effective Mental Wellness First Aid Kit for Teens

If there was one positive of the COVID19 pandemic, it was the growth in understanding and awareness about mental health. With teens, parents, and educators now more comfortable with discussing topics such as anxiety and depression, it’s time to turn attention to how to support today’s youth and help them build a first aid kit of strategies that will enable them to navigate the stressors of life in high school and beyond. 

Across the literature the idea of resilience has emerged as the core element in a teen’s mental wellness first aid kit. Resilience, or the ability to adapt successfully to challenging life circumstances, is not an intrinsic quality that a person is born with - or without. Rather, teens, with the help of trusted and skilled adults can build a framework or a set of strategies that they can tap into when times get tough; it won’t stop them feeling grief, anger, sadness, or disappointment, but it will enable them to navigate these emotions to a safe harbor that will enable them to heal.

In this resilience roundup we take a closer look at what resilience is, how to build it, and its impact on teen mental wellness.

Building Resilience: Key to Protecting Adolescent Mental Health

This multi-author study out of the United Kingdom focuses on resilience to mitigate the impact of mental health problems before they become entrenched. The ReSET program looks at how in-school programs combining online learning exercises and therapist guided sessions have successfully built resilience in early adolescents. The keys to program success in this study - non-stigmatizing programming that doesn’t target a specific disorder and strengths-based so that teens can build transferable skills that they can take into any situation they encounter. 

Ready to learn more? You can do that here.

The United States Air Force: A Leader in Building Resilience

Over the last decade there has been a definite shift within the Department of Defense regarding the importance of mental healthcare. The surge in deaths by suicide among veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan wars in the early to mid 2000s served as the catalyzing event, but since then the availability of resources and programming have expanded to include not just active duty personnel and veterans but their families as well. 

The United States Air Force (USAF) has created the Spectrum of Resilience that identifies the sources of strength and connection that service personnel can access during periods of adversity from self to clinical and mental health professionals. While this Spectrum of Resilience is unique to the USAF, teens, families, and educators could easily replicate the model to identify their own unique spectrum. 

Image for the Spectrum of Resilience

Building Resilience Close to Home

According to a new report published by the Advisory Commission on Youth (ACOY) teens in Loudoun County are struggling with their mental wellness. ACOY Chair Jeff Goldman shared in an article in LoudounNow that children are being diagnosed with depression at earlier ages and that self-harm emergency room visits and hospitalization rates continue to grow. These issues, combined with the high levels of pressure to achieve success that come with living in a wealthy county like, Loudoun, are all risk factors that may lead to suicide. 

The Ryan Bartel Foundation, based in Loudoun County, was created with the goal of preventing youth suicide by building resilience. Through practical programming, summer camps, and parent support, the foundation helps teens and their parents not only build stronger connections but also strategies to navigate the stressors of modern teen life. 

You can learn more about teen mental wellness programs, parent workshops, and this year’s summer camp here.


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