Depression, violence, cyberbullying, online addiction, smartphone addiction, eating disorders, sexual perversion, substance abuse etc are just some of the problems that teenagers suffer from. The vulnerability of teenagers is a widely acknowledged notion. They are at the crossroads of adolescence and childhood. They get easily enamored of things like drugs, sex, violence, perilous games and so on and so forth. It is difficult to keep them out of these addictions unless you do something to distract their mind or keep them engaged in productive activities. You can successfully prevent your teenage child from coming under the clutches of these vices if you can nudge them to participate in outdoor adventures.
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Outdoor adventures can foster mental health in young adults
There are two studies that indicate that outdoor adventures are indeed beneficial for mental health of teenagers. In a school project called “Crossing the Alps”, several 14-year-olds had participated in a nine-day hike through the Austrian, German and Italian Alps. After the adventure it was observed that the teenage children had experienced a significant increase in mindfulness and satisfaction.
There was also a significant reduction in the ‘demand’ subscale of Perceived Stress Scale. Perceived Stress Scale or Questionnaire is a 30-questions collection that assesses the stress level of a person. Since teens are at a heightened level of stress due to all the collusive factors discussed above, a reduction in defined parameters of PSQ can indicate reduced stress levels.
In another project carried out in a university, several teenagers were encouraged to spend eight days in the wild habitat of the Norwegian Hardangervidda region. The area was desolate and far away from the locality. It was observed that the participants scored higher in happiness, satisfaction, confidence and mindfulness. The perceived stress level was also lower than before. These two findings indicate that outdoor adventures can foster mental health in young adults.
Mental health problems are increasing due to a sedentary lifestyle
Today teenagers are spending too much time in sedentary lifestyle. They are spending time in front of the desktop or laptop playing games or updating their status in social media. If not, they are glued to the smartphone screen going through whatsapp videos/images/texts or engaged in Twitter, Facebook Or Instagram. In essence, they are spending considerableportion of time on the couch or on the bed immersed in gadgets. A study conducted at Department of Psychology, Methodist University College Ghana has pointed out that there is indeed a correlation between sedentary lifestyle and mental health, especially concentration and depression.
However, it is easy to remedy this problem. What you need to do is to instruct or encourage your teenage child to get involved in outdoor activities. This will free them from a perceived bondage of games, social media, smartphones etc.
The efficacy of adventure as a way to remedy mental health problem in teens is so well documented that it is often perceived as a therapy. The Journal of Child and Family Studieshas published a report regarding the benefits of adventure therapy in treating troubled adolescents. The researchers have observed that around 95 percent of the participants considered the project as extremelyvaluable for them. Six months down the line, even parents reported significant improvements in behavior and mindset of the teenagers. This is commonly known as Adventure Therapy where teens are encouraged to venture outside their comfort zones.
Since teens also love taking risks and doing things that satisfy their teenage instincts,they would like going out of their known precincts and get a taste of adventure. So by giving them an opportunity to escape the daily grind, you may well nourish the inner urge for adventure in them. Your teenage daughter or son can see him or her in a new light after going through the adventure. They also learn to rise up to new challenges and feel the warmth of a collaborative setting. This can boost the self-esteem as well as social skills of your teenage child.
Outside adventure fosters enhanced self-esteem, mastery and social connectedness
A study on the benefits of outside adventure on teenagers with mental illness was undertaken by YMCA Victoria in partnership with Sport and Recreation Victoria in Australia, and mental health service agencies. Individuals with mental illness, who were most likely to experience impairments in different cognitive functions and social participation, were selected. Instead of medical treatment they were selected for group outdoor adventures to see if this can encourage more social engagement in them and increase cognitive and other functions. An outdoor adventure camping program for young adults with mental illness was undertaken for this purpose. The study did indicate a heightened level of self-esteem, mastery and social connectedness in the participating teenagers.