August 30, 2017 —
Every month, we keep you informed on the latest studies and research in our “Not My Teen” blog series. Today, we’re taking a slightly different approach with a “Yes My Teen” post as we are looking at an inspiring group of teens who took it upon themselves to organize a Teen Wellness Conference.
With increased expectations and time constraints stemming from school, extracurricular activities, family commitments, and friendships, teens today face many stress-inducing pressures that can lead to mental health problems. It’s now more important than ever for teens to be champions in erasing the stigmas around mental health and be aware of resources that are available to them and their peers.
In response to this need, a California non-profit, TeenzTalk, led by a team of teens all over the globe, wanted to extend their mission of empowering their peers by putting on the first-ever Teen Wellness Conference. According to TeenzTalk founder Nadia Ghaffari, the idea of the conference is to “bring together teens in a safe space to delve into these difficult topics and harness positive peer influence.”
Unlike most mental health conferences targeted toward adults that are very clinical and academic in nature, Ghaffari wanted the teen conference to go beyond the conditions themselves. While the free conference allowed teens to connect around their mental health experiences, it also featured breakout sessions on topics such as mindfulness, healthy habits, and peer support. Each breakout session was led by a mental health professional and a teen co-facilitator. With the main goal of the conference being to empower teens, parents were only allowed to attend during the lunch hour, to give the teens in attendance independence and the ability to learn as much as possible.
These teens are doing an excellent job empowering their generation. As a parent, how can you inspire your teen to be a leader and positive peer influence like these teens?
- Encourage your teen to get involved in after-school clubs or extracurricular activities they are interested in. Just be careful not to force them to do any activities they aren’t interested in as this might make them disinterested in getting involved with things they do care about. You can start the conversation by talking with your teen about the upcoming teen wellness conference.
- Let your teen know that you’re there for advice about social situations. Helping them to build social skills early is the first step in helping them become a confident adult who can lead and fight for what they’re passionate about. It will also provide them with a foundation to positively influence and support their peers.
- Set a good example by sharing stories of your own past and present accomplishments. Nailed a presentation at work? Involve your teen in the conversation when sharing your successes with your family and make it a teachable moment.
For more information about the 2017 Teen Wellness Conference and the inspiring group of teens who helped to make it a reality, check out TeenzTalk.org. Have any tips of your own for empowering teens to exert positive peer influence? Feel free to share them in the comments below.