The teen years are a tough time for many students. Not only are they dealing with social and emotional concerns, but they are also gearing up to become adults and make big decisions for their life. Of course, some teens also have other problems happening in their life. Depression, anxiety, self-injury, abuse, and other factors may be a reality for them. These are challenging topics for an adult to understand, not to mention a teenager. While it may help them to talk to someone, many teens may not be comfortable going to traditional therapy sessions with adults while in school. Teachers and school health professionals can be crucial figures in these students’ lives. They not only deliver academic instruction, but they can also be valuable resources for students to turn to for mental health help and anxiety reduction.
Anxiety Disorders in Teens
Unfortunately, anxiety in teens is steadily increasing. Recently, anxiety disorders affected almost 1 in 3 young people between ages 13 and 18. With the COVID-19 pandemic sure to add to these numbers, anxiety rates in teens seem poised to skyrocket.
Schools are well aware of the state of their students’ mental health. School officials are doing their best to shed light on these challenges by incorporating more mental health awareness and programs. Many school sites implement a Mental Health Week in October to help bring attention to student anxiety and difficulties, including in-depth activities and lesson plans for teachers to use. Additionally, May is Mental Health Month, helping to eliminate stigmas and empower people of all ages to seek help. With more and more funding available today, foundations deliver these positive messages to increasing numbers of students.
Helping Teens with Anxiety
Many young people do not have coping strategies for stress and anxiety. For some, their only resource is school. Teachers and school health professionals provide an outlet to these teens. There are many paths to mental health, but books are one way to help a teenager with anxiety.
Books offer readers a chance to get lost in their pages. They provide a way for us to escape from our own reality and relate to someone experiencing something similar. Bibliotherapy has often been used independently by teens who select books that they can identify with. They connect with the characters in the story and emotionally gain insight into their own lives. The books help them grow and see what someone in a similar situation may have done to get through a predicament like their own. As they go through the pages, they can see that conflicts are resolved and gain potential strategies for their own lives.
Teens often feel lonely and think they are the only ones that have ever experienced hardships. When reading books with characters that have similar situations, they know that they are not alone. They can see that all individuals have growing pains of sorts and must figure out ways to overcome them. Reading about how others within the pages of books get through these sagas helps them push forward and understand that they keep moving toward adulthood.
How to Help a Teenager with Anxiety
School counselors may want to work with Language Arts teachers to stay on top of new books coming out for teen readers. It is essential to give suggestions to students that may need bibliotherapy but not force them to read something in particular. Supporting self-help for teenage anxiety is critical.
A lunch bunch reading group where they select a book from a group of titles would be a great start. Young adult fiction books may be an excellent way to get these teens talking with one another and with the counselor that is also there to interact with the teens. Consider how a book group within the school day may benefit specific individuals. Perhaps teachers suggest that they join the group or have a group sign up. Talk with other specialists within the individual school site to figure out what will work best for your students.
The Best Books for Teens with Anxiety
Books can be effective remedies for anxiety symptoms in teens. Here are the best books for helping students achieve optimal mental health.
Hold Still, by Nina LaCour
As Caitlin peruses her best friend’s journal, who recently died of suicide, she realizes that everyone is going through something, even if it hard to see.
Verona Comics, by Jennifer Dugan
Two youths with their own unique mental health challenges fall in love at a comic book convention prom. Both deal with and overcome their anxiety and stress through their connection.
Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson
A story of hope and persistence, Lia struggles with eating disorders in high school.
Mosquitoland, by David Arnold
A journey both physical and mental, Mim reflects upon her mental health. Some students can relate to teenage anxiety attacks and the struggles presented in the novel.
How it Feels to Float, by Helena Fox
The protagonist is hit with grief, stress, and unease. One of the better anxiety books for teens, How it Feels to Float is relatable and straightforward.
All the Broken Pieces, by Ann E. Burg
After dealing with the effects of war, Matt Pin struggles with haunting memories and nightmares. This book can help youths organize and process their conflicting feelings.
The Madman of Piney Woods, by Christopher Paul Curtis
Although two boys differ in appearance, they begin to understand the commonalities that we all share. Mental health, stress, daily struggles, and compassion are knotted together into a complicated friendship.
A Corner of the Universe, by Ann M. Martin
In a study of a family dealing with mental illness, Hattie’s schizophrenic uncle returns home. She is torn between a desire for normalcy and taking care of a loved one with mental health challenges.
The Memory of Light, by Francisco Stork
Suicide in youths is becoming tragically common. This book reflects on the aftermath of a failed suicide attempt and the power of hope and determination.
Hey, Kiddo, by Jarret Krosoczka
Anxiety symptoms in teens have many causes. Addiction is one, and this book examines the role it can play in mental health for young people. The main character turns to art, highlighting the idea that there are outlets for teens dealing with anxiety and other challenges.
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