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How To Cope With Big Issues At Home And Beyond As A Teen

From climate change to gun violence, today's teens face monumental challenges. Discover tools, tips, and resources to help navigate, cope, and drive impactful change.

You’re just trying to keep up with schoolwork, friends, and figure out who you are, and the world decides to toss in massive concerns like climate change, school violence gun violence.

It’s a little overwhelming, right? It’s okay to feel that way and admit it! Sometimes that’s the first step. You may feel like you’re just one person, but your impact still matters. Small moves can spark big changes. And for those global headaches that feel way out of reach, we’ve got some tools and tips to help you navigate and cope.

What Worries you The Most and How to Manage the Uncertainty

There have been a lot of new stressors in recent years in America that has made mental health struggles even more difficult. From the overwhelming ripples of the COVID-19 pandemic to racial injustices, school shootings, and the palpable political divide, it’s been a lot to process, according to recent polls.

These surveys shed light on the sentiments and concerns of young Americans like you, offering a snapshot of how your peers perceive the current climate in throughout the country (as well as the actual climate crisis).

– 59% of your peers believe that their own rights are under attack.

– Only 33% trust in the United States Supreme Court to “do the right thing” all or most of the time.

– 75% are moderately, very or extremely worried about climate change.

– Nearly half your peers have felt unsafe in the past month, with 40% worried about falling victim to gun violence.

– 73% believe homelessness can happen to anyone.

Let those numbers show you that you’re not on your own worrying about those heavy topics.

But it is essential to remember that as stress piles up, it can mess with your focus and mindset. So, why not focus on zeroing in on the things in your power and strengthening your mental resilience?

Here’s how:

1 – Switch your thinking from negative to positive: If you’re thinking over potential consequences, it can spiral into lots of negative thinking. You may even feel afraid before something has even happened. Instead, try to imagine the best possible scenario.

2 – Think about a friend: Imagine your friend came to you with a worry, what advice would you give them? It can be helpful to play this out in your mind and can give you a new perspective.

3 – Stay educated, but know when to step back: It’s great to be in the know, but in today’s age of non-stop news alerts and doom scrolling, it’s easy to experience information overload. When times are tough, consider setting boundaries on how often you check the news. This is especially important when you’re constantly exposed to distressing images or videos.

4 – Take control of what you can control: There’s power in the choices you make. Whether it’s lending a hand in your community, joining forces with a group that resonates, or hitting the ballot box – every bit counts in carving out your path forward.

How Teens like you can Make a Difference

You may feel so strongly about a social cause or issue in your community or beyond that you want to do something about it. Or, maybe you just want more information to help you understand what’s happening to the world.

Groups at school or in your community:

– See what groups there are at school: Consider joining a Gay-Straight Alliance, LGBTQ+ club, Black Student Union, Latinx Student Association, or Asian-Pacific Islander Club. These groups offer a chance to connect with peers who share similar concerns, providing a sense of belonging. If you’re passionate about the environment, look into environmental or sustainability initiatives at your school to get involved.

Don’t see your passion represented? Ask an adult you feel comfortable with about starting something fresh.

Check in at the community level:

– Explore local avenues for civic engagement: Consider joining local chapters of national organizations like the NAACP or Sierra Club, or attending town hall meetings to voice your concerns.

– Community centers, such as the YMCA, often have programs on social justice or environmental initiatives. Participate in community clean-ups, or collaborate with faith-based organizations on outreach programs.

– Local libraries frequently host events on civic issues, and mentorship opportunities, like those provided by Big Brothers Big Sisters, can have a direct positive impact. Even on a local scale, your actions can ripple into broader change.

Dive into existing resources: No need to reinvent the wheel. There are many great groups out there to help point you in the right direction. Here are some we particularly like!

– Not sure how to best use your time? Enter 80,000 Hours which can help you figure out the best way to help others and take action, including research and support to help students and recent graduates. They have great online guides, a podcast and more.

– Maybe you’re good at expressing yourself in words. Do The Write Thing can help you put that skill to good use. It’s a national campaign to stop violence through a writing program for middle school students. So far 1.2 million students have pledged to end youth violence and Do The Write Thing has many impact stories, resources and ways in which youth can get involved.

– If you care about fighting for sexual health, rights and justice around the world you might look into Advocates for Youth. They bring together youth and adult allies to join forces and fight for rights related to body autonomy as well as programs and systems to secure sexual health and equity. Scroll through their “Issues” section or explore their events and resource guides for ways to get involved.

Disclaimer: This website offers general information and is not a substitute for professional advice. We are not clinicians or trained professionals; this information should not replace seeking help from a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare provider for personalized guidance.