6 Ways to Support Young Women's Wellness

By: Mollie Shauger | Friday, March 6, 2020 | Healthy Living

A diverse group of teenage girls. Credit: iStock

The stresses of daily life and social pressures young women face often cause them to put aside their own health and well-being.

According to the World Health Organization, half of all mental health disorders in adulthood start by age 14, although most cases go undetected and untreated, and depression is one of the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents. 

Promoting healthy behaviors during teenage years and protecting young women from health risks now can help prevent future health problems in adulthood, says the WHO.

Women’s equality is also linked to better health, and in turn a better community. Here are some ways adults can help young women they know lead healthier lives.

1. Be an advocate for their health

Learn how certain illnesses or health conditions, such as anxiety or eating disorders, are more likely to affect younger women. Reminding them to care about their health early on is an important step to managing stress and boosting wellness. “Self-care” could be in the form keeping regular doctors’ appointments, or just making sure young adults are taking time to evaluate their own mental state and stress levels.

2. Talk about mental health

Positive mental health allows women to realize their full potential and make meaningful contributions to their communities, according to MentalHealth.gov. The stigma around mental health is diminishing, with the conversation shifting toward awareness and prevention. Make mental health a regular topic of conversation with female family members or friends by sharing advice, asking how they’re feeling, and offering support.

3. Promote healthy eating 

Good nutrition is important for the body and mind, and for supporting growth and development, a healthy weight, as well as positive body image. Young women should include in their diet a variety of healthy foods, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. 

4. Fuel their fitness

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days a week, and resistance training activities at least two days a week to keep muscles and bones strong. Sports is also a great way for young women to stay active, be part of a supportive group of peers, and become more resilient, among other benefits. 

5. Inspire confidence 

A recent online survey of 1,394 8- to 18-year-olds and their parents and guardians found that confidence levels drop by 30 percent for girls between ages 8 and 14, and three in four teen girls worry about failing. You can help young women feel more confident by supporting their talents and interests, giving praise, and being a positive role model for them on a regular basis. Encourage them to try new things, even if it doesn’t work out the way they expected.

6. Encourage volunteerism

Giving back can boost a young woman’s mood and self-esteem, making them feel good about helping others. Also, the meaningful connections that a person gains through volunteer work can also have lasting benefits

The YMCA supports the health and wellness of young women with programs that connect everyone to the knowledge, resources and community they need to lead active, vibrant lives at every age. We offer free middle school memberships for every middle school student, empowering youth to make health and responsible choices. Because the Y is for all, financial assistance is available to eligible individuals and families who want to participate in Y programs. Learn more at metroymcas.org or contact your local Y branch.


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