Today’s guest post is one of a two-part series for the 2018 National Keystone Conference. For the other post, written by a member of the Keystone Conference Steering Committee, click here!
Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
Being emotionally well is a key component of leading a healthy life. Low emotional wellness, especially in teens, can lead to negative health outcomes, including feelings of depression and anxiety:
- In 2016, 62% of college undergraduates report having feelings of “overwhelming anxiety.” (American College Health Association)
- In 2016, 12.8% of people age 12-17 reported having at least one depressive episode. That’s 3.1 million teens. (National Institute of Mental Health)
Focusing on emotional wellness can be a key to unlocking your future goals. People with better emotional wellness report higher life satisfaction, positive health outcomes, and greater academic success. Positive emotional wellbeing allows you to:
- Realize your full potential
- Cope with the stresses of life
- Work productively
- Make meaningful contributions to your community
As leaders in your Club, school, community, or at home, taking leadership of your emotional wellness means living each day to the fullest. It means NOTICING the things in our lives that keep us from being our best self, COMMUNICATING with others to engage in supportive dialogues, and TAKING ACTION to support the wellness of others.
The actions and activities that you engage in every day impact your emotional wellbeing. Here are some things you can do RIGHT NOW to foster positive emotional wellbeing in yourself, others and in your community:
LEAD YOURSELF: NOTICE
- At what point today did I feel good about myself – what happened to make me feel that way?
- At what point today did I feel intimidated or unsuccessful- what happened to make me feel that way?
- What is my intention for tomorrow?
If inspired to, you can text yourself your reflections, or write them down in a favorite notebook.
LEAD WITH OTHERS: COMMUNICATE
- Pick a buddy at the Club, in your school or family, and commit to giving each other daily ‘buddy boosts’ – words of encouragement, inspiration and kindness for the next two weeks. Text, email or give a handwritten note.
- Use the Mood Meter for a check in process at your next Keystone meeting.
LEAD IN THE COMMUNITY: TAKE ACTION
- Make a Gratitude Wall in the Club, in your school or at home. Connect with friends or family and decide what you want it to look like and where it will go. Make a sign to encourage everyone to post their gratitude for others using post-it notes or index cards.
- Organize a project to make your neighborhood more beautiful- either with a mural, or clean up effort.
- Start community garden in your neighborhood.
- Start a random acts of kindness club in your local Club or school.
Other ways to maintain emotional wellness include:
- Getting professional help if you need it
- Connecting with others
- Staying positive
- Getting physically active
- Helping others
- Getting enough sleep
- Developing coping skills
Staff at Boys & Girls Clubs and Youth Centers: Emotional wellbeing is the 2018-19 National Keystone Project Topic! Use the new innovative program guide, Teens Take the Lead, to engage youth in projects addressing positive emotional health. Available at BGCA.net/Service, the guide details nine interactive sessions and three work-group sessions, using a collaborative leadership structure with youth and staff. Youth co-lead sessions, bring their voices to important conversations, and work collectively with other youth to develop a meaningful project in response to a community need.