Teens today have many responsibilities and expectations within their family, school, and social lives. With the changing world of increasing competition for college applications, reliance on social media, and an endless world of opportunity, it can be easy for teens to become overwhelmed.
Feelings of being overwhelmed, social isolation, inadequacy, lack of sleep, constant external stimulation from all our society is exposed to, among others can lead to feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. “Social isolation is the number 1 factor in depression,” according to Dr. Jim Sorenson, a clinical psychiatrist. This isolation seems to be increasing with the ever present use of social media, both parents holding employment, and bullying. Depression and anxiety can be a chemical imbalance for some but for others it can be environmentally driven. If left untreated and unsupported, these feelings can lead to suicidal ideation or thoughts of suicide.
With most households requiring both parents to work, teens often find themselves at home with friends playing video games or other stagnate activities, meanwhile, being outside is crucial for your mental health and well-being.
One option for teens to get outside, experience nature, learn skills, and receive support for their stress is called Equine Assisted work. This type of work has many names including but not limited to; equine assisted growth and learning, equine assisted learning, equine assisted psychotherapy, and equine facilitated mental health, to name a few. This is a form of therapy, personal growth, or skill building that is solution focused and experiential in nature. This opportunity is a non threatening, non judgmental approach to therapy or learning that allows the participant to connect with nature, look at our thoughts and behavior patterns, learn new skills, and then actually practice those skills through interactions with the horses to determine if those skills are transferable into their home, school, or social environment.
Youth and adolescents face many challenges today and may be dealing with stressors and may need support. For parents to help, just listening to your child can go a long way. Make listening a daily occurrence so when there is an issue, your child has trust in your ability to support them bu listening. Active listening without judgement or interjecting expectations (easing up the pressure they are already under is helpful while setting healthy limitations). Most importantly, don’t panic! You know your child best. Be there to support them and help them find a balance in their situation. If you are interested in further support or to learn more about equine assisted work in Michigan, visit www.bridgewatersupportservices.com.
Article of reference: http://plymouth.wickedlocal.com/article/20140808/NEWS/140808700/12448/LIFESTYLE