Holistic Approach To Teen Mental Health – Why & How It Makes A Difference

By Nicole McCray

Being a teen is harder. Mental health is an important topic whether you are a teen, or a parent of one. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year. The National Center for Health Statistics says that 5% of American 12- to 19-year-olds use antidepressants. According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 1 in 3  adolescents ages 13 to 18 will experience an anxiety disorder. These numbers have been rising steadily; between 2007 and 2012, anxiety disorders in children and teens went up 20%. This is clearly an issue that must be taken with great care.

Alongside the important medications that can be prescribed if a family physician deems it necessary, new approaches to mental health have started gaining popularity, which can aid overall mental health in teens. Rather than looking at the problems alone, people have started to look at the person as a whole. This holistic approach to mental health can be incredibly effective in treating teen mental health as it evaluates spiritual, physical, and emotional well-being. Let’s talk about why it matters. 

Holistic Therapy To Calm The Whole

As complex humans, nothing makes more sense than addressing every part of us rather than just the parts we don’t like. Holistic therapy takes old traditional medicines and combines them with new ones. This can help us by paying attention to our health spiritually, emotionally, and physically. 

Teens who get physically tired from late nights with homework, sports, and social media won’t be able to expect great mental health and awareness in school. Teens who often feel lost spiritually may develop poor nutrition habits or succumb to peer pressure and experiment with drugs and alcohol. One area can not be addressed alone. 

What Does Holistic Therapy Look Like?

There are several ways to do this through several practices. Experts at Rashav Wellness describe integrative and functional medicine as two very different pathways. 

“Integrative medicine doctors make use of all appropriate therapies to treat the underlying cause of disease. Treatment options may include homeopathy, herbal medicine, bodywork, chiropractic care, acupuncture, energy work, and behavioral therapy,” they describe.

Here are the more common techniques that are usually used in combination with each other. 

  • CBT –  Traditional Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be done in one-on-one or group settings. This is usually used to check in with the teen’s spiritual, emotional, and physical state to identify some of the material and physiological problems.
  • Mindful Practices –  Meditation, among other mindful practices, can help reduce anxiety. Being able to be present is one of today’s teens’ greatest challenges with social media pressures and being online constantly. 
  • Breathwork – Utilizing breath work can help slow a teen’s heart rate. This can be supplemented with mindfulness excises to create a more relaxed state. 
  • Reiki – Reiki is the practice of working with energy. The practitioner does not actually touch you but helps remove energy blocks throughout the patient’s body. 
  • Massage and BodyWork – Massage work has incredible physical and emotional benefits. This can be particularly useful for athletes dealing with school and sports stress. 
  • Aromatherapy –  Addressing all of our senses is a part of the bigger picture. That’s why aromatherapy can help address many issues. 
  • Yoga/Sports – Sports, exercise, or activities like yoga can be a stress release for teens. Physical exercise provides positive endorphins and can be a way for teens to get off of the internet and be present. 
  • Nutritional Counseling – What we eat plays a significant role in our health. Getting the proper nutrients in a time when junk food is everywhere is critical for teens still growing. 

Not all teens will respond to each therapy the same. Some ideas may work while others may not resonate or take some time to resonate. They all have benefits that directly help some of the anxiety and stress that comes with being a teen. 

Benefits of Holistic Therapy

Regulating emotions is one of the most significant upsides to holistically approaching mental health. With the brain still developing, high school can feel like very overwhelming and daunting, when it is actually just the beginning stages of a teen maturing into adulthood. Slowing down is the way to help process and clarify what a situation really means. 

Here are the benefits that teens can get from the above therapy.

Physical Release

Sometimes talking does not help fix an energy build-up that teens may get from sitting in school or sitting on their phones. Anything that gives a physical release of tension, such as sports or massage work, can enhance mood and relieve stress. It also improves natural immunity. 


Having true self-awareness is difficult. Teens live in their world, not the world around them. The practice of breathing and meditation allows teens to find clarity and focus. Attention spans have gotten shorter, but this is a practice to rebuild them. Meditation also improves empathy and connection within relationships. 

Physical Recovery

The body can recover better with therapy like nutritional counseling, acupuncture, or even Reiki. Teens with depression may physically struggle to exercise or feel great. Something popular, like acupuncture, promotes blood flow and physical healing. When you include techniques to enhance body recovery helps minimize poor habits. 

Natural Pathway

Medication has given some kids and adults an alternative approach to addressing emotional regulation. However, a holistic approach works on natural and sustainable skills.  These practices can be used for life, whereas the goal of medication is not meant to be permanent. 

Getting On Track

It’s not easy for our teens today to find easy happiness. Social media and a pandemic in the last two years have thrown a curveball. It can seem counterintuitive in some cases to have a teen talk about their problems in person when many interactions have occurred online over the last few years. 

That’s why other approaches seem less stressed on one-on-one talk. Getting physical through sports, being in nature, or yoga is a healthy alternative. But not everyone loves to be active through sports, so getting bodywork or massage work is another path. Combining the two can bring a world of benefits together. 

A holistic approach can avoid looking to medications and find natural ways to increase clarity, self-awareness, and happiness. These methods can make a huge difference in a teen’s life. 

Nicole McCray is a content creator who spends her time writing about everything, including beauty, health and wellness, pet care, music, movies, and TV. She writes for various blogs and loves using her insight to help any audience.

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