Talking to teens about mental health: On November 1, 2019, Dr. D’Arienzo spoke to the 400 male high school students at the Bolles School. The topic was mental health and how to talk to a friend that is experiencing psychological problems. Presenting and interacting with a group of adolescent young men for an hour before lunch is potentially challenging. However, the meeting was a success.
Practical information about mental health and the teenage mind
We reviewed the neuroscience of brain development, the concept of the “imaginary audience,” and the teenage distorted experience that a current emotional state will last forever.
I also shared my personal adolescent story of “storm and stress” and eventual success as a 20 something and then adult.
I informed the boys I would not tell them what “NOT” to do
We reviewed the research suggesting that adolescents learn best from understanding the benefits. Although adolescents know what the risks are, they often believe those risks are irrelevant to them. I related this to the concept of the “personal fable” experienced by adolescents.
Recognizing psychological problems within ourselves and others and knowing what to do.
The recent mental health statistics were shown. We reviewed signs and symptoms of psychological problems. I gave the boys specific empathic quotes to use as well as reviewed the best non verbal behavioral techniques to connect with others who are struggling.
Understanding our own personalities profiles
The boys reviewed the MBTI and determined their profiles. We then focused on which personality traits were suited for talking to others about mental health traits. We also explored the necessity to examine the other person’s personality who may potentially have mental health problems. Extroverts will need to listen more and relax when talking to a depressed friend. Thinkers will need to use Feeling techniques which may present a challenge. Further, if the depressed person is a Perceiver, a Judger needs to roll with resistance when helping the Perceiver and not become upset when the Perceiver does not take charge of their problem at that moment.
Psychological Confidence Boosters
The boys learned about the framework of confidence which includes possessing a skill, believing one can execute it, and having the desire to do it. They were encouraged to challenge themselves each day. Also we reviewed the traits of a successful person, the benefits of expanding their social network, and an effective ritual to improve performance.