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Introduction to adolescent mental health
Introduction to adolescent mental health

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1 Why is resilience important?

A growing body of research suggests that learning the skills to cope with everyday challenges during childhood and adolescence can reduce the likelihood of developing stress-related illnesses such as depression and addiction in later life (Cooper, Montgomery and Sheehy, 2018).

Two illustrations of a childs face, side by side. On the left, the child looks sad and their head is bounded by spiky thorns. On the right, they appear happier, surrounded by roses.
Figure 2

Developing resilient behaviours to endure and adapt to stressful life experiences are clearly important life skills. Yet there are clear differences in how young people react to stressful situations. This leads many parents and practitioners to question why some young people appear more able to bounce back from life’s challenges and show fewer signs of anxiety than other young people. Even young people raised within the same family can demonstrate startling differences in how they react to and cope with stressful events. In the first activity, you will reflect on these issues.

Activity 1: Reflecting on resilience

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Spend a few minutes thinking back to a time when a young person that you know needed to respond to challenging circumstances. Do you think the young person demonstrated resilience? What was it about their response that made you think that? Jot down your thoughts here:

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If you thought their response was resilient, perhaps you noticed how the young person seemed to come through relatively unscathed, bounced-back quickly or perhaps appeared wiser in some way. If the response was not resilient, perhaps you noticed them struggling over a long period or not adjusting well to new circumstances. These are just a few suggestions, and there are many other observations you could have made.

Now that you have started thinking about what resilience might look like, you’ll study definitions of resilience next.