Support for Teens in the Summer
For most teenagers, summer is a time to look forward to sleeping in, staying up late, going out with friends, and on family vacations. However, teenagers dealing with depression may find the summertime a challenge due to the lack of structure and support they are accustomed to. Throughout the school year, teens with depression may have a hard time engaging, but school provides them with the support they need to lead productive lives. The school environment includes support from classmates that prevent them from feeling isolated, school activities to look forward to, and academic work that requires their focus and attention. During the summer, teens with depression are tested with seclusion, lack of stimulation, and absence of structure that leads to too much free time.
Contrary to common belief, teenagers thrive off an environment that provides structure, support, and social interaction. As a result, spending too much time alone during the summer, may ignite feelings of depression, isolation, and lack of motivation. Think about it - during the school year, teens gain a sense of accomplishment and self-satisfaction when they have the opportunity to gain knowledge and build relationships with their classmates. Keeping teens busy with productive tasks helps teens reduce negative thoughts and feelings, since their minds are distracted with fruitful interactions. When the summer rolls around, teens who have an immense amount of free time are more likely to have distorted feelings of loneliness and sedentariness.
For parents with depressed teens, the key to keeping depression away is to create a structured schedule for the summer, and to also leave time for leisurely activities. Whether this means creating to-do lists for tasks around the house, or incorporating a daily physical activity, or engaging them with other teens who are going through similar depressive episodes. This could mean looking for a teen depression support group or outpatient therapy to help them understand their depressive symptoms and learning coping skills to help them overcome their challenges. This will help teens understand that they are not alone when it comes to depression and can help them uncover the underlying reasons why they are feeling depressed.
For teenagers dealing with depression, seeking outpatient group therapy may be most beneficial in the summertime to avoid feelings of overwhelming sadness. The social aspect of group therapy is particularly beneficial for teenagers dealing with depression. Many treatment centers offer intensive outpatient programs that are structured in a group setting to allow teens the time to discuss what they are experiencing and to help them overcome barriers that are getting in the way of their growth.
If you are a parent who is noticing signs of severe depression, summer is a great time to get psychoeducation to identify areas your teen needs support in. Many mental health programs provide educational support, which will help bolster students who are struggling throughout the school year. They will allow teens to feel empowered to acknowledge their strengths, understand their vulnerabilities, and learn how to care for their overall health through increased self-esteem and purpose.
Many outpatient programs engage teens’ families and incorporate a family systems approach to identify any difficult family dynamics and bring empathy to the situation. This is beneficial in working with both the teen and their family to provide support and education to all members of the family, and to engage all members of the family unit in the treatment and discharge process
Written by Mashal Rezai
Intake Coordinator, Balance Treatment Center