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Promoting Adolescent Mental Health Wellness Through Mindfulness and Positive Psychology Strategies
Promoting Adolescent Mental
Health Wellness Through
Mindfulness and Positive
Laura L. Truesdale, LISW-CPS, MAC
Susan Yelverton, LMSW
Palmetto Health Adolescent Recovery Center
General Teen Depression Statistics
Depression is the most common mental health disorder in the United States
among teens and adults.
2.8 million youth age 12-17 had at least one major depressive episode in 2014.
Between 10 to 15 percent of teenagers have some symptoms of teen
depression at any one time.
About 5 percent of teens are suffering from major depression at any one time
As many as 8.3 percent of teens suffer depression for at least a year at a time,
compared to about 5.3 percent of the general population.
Most teens with depression will suffer from more than one episode. 20 to 40
percent will have more than one episode within two years and 70 percent will
have more than one episode before adulthood. Episodes of teen depression
generally last about 8 months.
General Teen Anxiety Statistics
Anxiety Disorder affect 25 percent of all teens
and 30 percent of all teen girls anxiety disorder
at some point in their lives
Lifetime Prevalence: 25.1% of 13 to 18 year olds
Lifetime Prevalence of “Severe” Disorder: 5.9%
of 13 to 18 year olds have “severe” anxiety
What is Positive Psychology ?
“There are two complementary strategies for improving the
human condition. One is to relieve what is negative in life; the
other is to strengthen what is positive. Mainstream psychology
focuses largely on the first strategy; Positive Psychology
emphasizes the second" - Martin Seligman
"Positive psychology is the scientific study of what enables
individuals and communities to thrive" - International Positive
What’s going wrong versus What’s going right
Why? What are the benefits?
Reduce Stress and Boosts Well-Being
Aids Coping and Develops Resilience
Increase Performance and Engagement
Make Healthy Choices
Improvement of Relationships
How to flourish… daily, intentional activities
“Central to the field of positive psychology is the paradox that the
human brain has a negative default position.” MacConville and Rae
We flourish by reducing the impact of negative emotions, increasing
positive emotions and changing the focus from ourselves to other
Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck developed the ABC Model, which is a
useful strategy to understand how our thoughts work and how we
can manage them.
A: Adversity, Activating Event
B: Beliefs or interpretation of A
C: Consequences- emotional or behavioral
D: Disputation- argument to counter B
E: Energization or Effective New Belief
Increasing positive emotions
Positive Psychology has many tools that can be used. The following
are key concepts and skills:
Mindfulness- Mind in a jar
Three good things exercise
Random acts of kindness
What is mindfulness?
It is the awareness of the present moment.
It is the noticing of thoughts, feelings and sensations as they rise and
It can be observed through the five senses.
It can be practiced formally (through meditation) or informally (while
waiting in line, talking to a family member, cooking dinner).
It is the process of bringing your attention back to the present
moment, when you have noticed it has wandered.
It is meeting whatever arises in your brain with a non-judgmental
What mindfulness is not.
It is not a religion or doctrine. Anyone of any faith (or non-faith)
can do it!
It is not the act of thinking very hard about one particular thing.
It is not the absence of thought.
It is not just for monks, priests, and spiritual leaders.
It can never be done perfectly.
Why should we practice mindfulness with
adolescents and teens?
It helps them create distance between
themselves and their thoughts and
It helps them “pause” in a moment .
It teaches them psychological
It can build healthier relationships.
It can help them regain interest and
motivation in their present
I’m noticing that
I’m having the
thought that this
is a catastrophe.
How do I practice mindfulness?
You can do any activity mindfully by committing and recommitting
your attention to the task at hand. Here are some activities that are
Doing the dishes
Picking up your room
Packing your backpack or purse.
Why did I
Use five senses to connect to your surroundings.
What do you see, hear, smell, taste, touch?
Focus on the act of breathing.
What does it feel like to breathe in?
Where do you feel the breathe once you have inhaled it? Your lungs,
stomach, or chest?
What does it feel like to exhale?
Where in your body do you notice your exhalation?
Use your five senses to connect to the activity.
What do you see, hear, smell, taste, touch as you connect the dots?
As you go from one dot to the next, notice
how many time your mind wanders.
As you move from one dot to the next, does
your brain get to the next dot before your
Questions to ask yourself:
How often did my mind wander?
When it wandered, did it go to the past, the present, or make
judgments or commentary on the present
Was I able to bring my mind back to the present?
What helped me refocus my attention?
When I noticed my mind wandering, was I kind to myself or did I
get frustrated and judge myself?
How did it feel to be really present with what is happening?
Seligman, Martin E. (1995). The Optimistic Child: A Proven Program to Safeguard Children
against Depression and Build Lifelong Resilience. London: Jessica Kingsley
MacConville, R. and Rae, T. (2012). Building Happiness, Resilience and Motivation in
Adolescents: A Positive Psychology Curriculum for Well-Being. Boston: Houghton Mifflin
Siegel, D. J. (2013). Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of
the Teenage Brain. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin.