• Mara Elwood

Self Compassion for Teens

Being an adolescent in our modern times is not an easy task. A 2017 Time Magazine article stated that depression has increased between 2012 and 2015 by 50% in girls, and 21% in boys. Also for 12 to 14 year olds, 3 times as many girls, and 2 times as many boys took their own lives in 2014, as compared to 2007. Many of our youth do see mental health professionals and statistics from these professionals state; 14% of 13-18 year olds experience a mood disorder, 32% experience an anxiety disorder, 19% are diagnosed with a behaviour disorder and 11% have a substance abuse disorder.

These are mostly statistics for the US, and we all know that the suicide rate in NZ is actually one of the highest in the world. Not to mention the amount of self harm that teens seem to be practicing as well, not just with the drugs that are much different from what adults nowadays were exposed to when they were young, but the actual self cutting and injuring behaviours that have spiked as well. Then there is the huge amount of bullying, compounded by cyber-bullying, and the continued decrease in resources due to funding cuts.

I am the mother of two teens, and it is not easy being a mother of teens either. Trying to parent and prepare them for leaving the home is scary, exhausting and seems impossible sometimes.

What is needed in all of this is more compassion, for self and for other. I recently trained to teach the MFY: Self Compassion for Teens program adapted from the MSC program by Dr. Karen Bluth and Lorraine Hobbs. This program has been proven to lead to decrease anxiety, depression, perceived stress, negative affect, aggression, and narcissism while increasing life satisfaction, self esteem, sense of community, social connectedness, curiosity, and resilience in teens and young adults. Less depression and more self-compassion has also been proven to decrease self injuring behaviour. The MSC program has been proven to show all of these results for adults as well.

If you know of a group of teens that you think could benefit from the program let me know. I am looking to get a group of a 2-3 year age spread (ages 10-18) with at least 8 teens together. I am contacting schools and organizations, but we all know word of mouth is the best way to get this kind of thing off the ground. Contact me on moacompassion@gmail.com or 022 084 3244 (either in Auckland or on Waiheke).

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