Improving Mental Health Through Life Skill Development for Adolescents


Improving Mental Health Through Life Skill Development for Adolescents

An adolescent’s mental health and life skills are often connected. A lack of life skills can result in poor mental health, and such mental health challenges can negatively impact an adolescent’s life skills. However, regardless of mental health, adolescents can learn life skills by working with mental health care professionals. In building a foundation of these skills, adolescents are more likely to be successful in maintaining their mental health now and in the future.

How Mental Health Impacts Life Skills

When an adolescent is struggling with mental health, their ability to function daily is impacted. This includes their life skills. Life skills are the skills necessary for an adolescent or adult to function on a daily basis. These skills will vary; however, two main categories of life skills that are impacted by mental health are social skills and self-care skills.

Social Skills

Many mental health conditions impact an adolescent’s ability to communicate and form healthy relationships. For example, many adolescents who struggle with mental health challenges have difficulty making decisions, thinking critically, and organizing. However, forming healthy relationships and being part of a community requires that each individual will show up and work to solve problems that occur in individual relationships or a group.

Additionally, social skills such as empathy and communication are often inhibited by the existence of mental health disorders. Therefore, these adolescents are more likely to have difficulty communicating their needs and feelings, and understanding and noticing the needs and feelings of others. This can create difficulty when forming new relationships and maintaining friendships.

Self-Care Skills

While adolescents are under the care of their parents, they are also in the process of learning how to care for their needs. Self-care skills are vital for being successful in both adolescence and adulthood. They include skills like financial management, health management, and coping skills.

However, when an adolescent is struggling with their mental health, they are more likely to struggle with self-care skills. While these skills vary, they all require self-awareness, emotional regulation, and critical thinking. Therefore, it might be more difficult for these adolescents to learn to notice and care for their needs.

How Life Skills Impact Mental Health

Fortunately, all adolescents are in a phase of developing and learning. Therefore, it is the ideal point for them to develop life skills that will help them to manage their mental health in adolescence and adulthood. Learning life skills helps adolescents to build and maintain relationships, and cope and adjust to changes that occur. These skills are vital to their mental health.


Building relationships is challenging and requires social skills like listening, empathizing, and communicating clearly. However, when adolescents learn and improve their communication skills, they are more likely to solve issues smoothly in relationships, create clear and healthy boundaries, connect with others, and build a community that helps them to heal.

Research shows that communication skills that help adolescents to build better relationships can improve their mental health by decreasing their risk of depression. While there are multiple theories to explain this correlation, it is believed that better social skills help improve self-confidence and provide relationships that give adolescents more resilience to stress.

Coping and Adjusting

Being able to manage new situations, environments, and problems is important. The life skills of coping and adjusting are vital to this ability. When an adolescent learns the skills to cope with stress and challenges, they are more likely to push themselves, get past the challenges, and search for solutions. However, adolescents without these skills will struggle. They are more likely to get stuck, and their mental health will suffer.

Fortunately, life skills can be taught. Research has shown that adolescents who go through a life skill learning program increase their ability to cope and adjust as needed.  Therefore, when an adolescent learns life skills, they can cope with stress and protect their mental health more successfully.

Mental Health Benefits of Building Life Skills in Adolescence

Adolescence is a time of growth and change. Therefore, it is an ideal time to develop foundational skills. While they are still living at home, they can practice these skills. Additionally, as they eventually leave the house, they will have experience using these skills. This gives them the confidence and capacity to manage their mental health, both in adolescence and as adults.

Additionally, adolescents who struggle with addiction, mental health, or trauma will particularly benefit from building these skills. This is because these challenges can impact them into adulthood. When adolescents learn to manage these challenges, it becomes more normalized to them. As a result, caring for their own needs as adults is less of a shock. Ultimately, adolescents who learn life skills will benefit far beyond the initial years of practicing these skills.

When adolescents struggle with their mental health, they often lack life skills. However, at Sustain Recovery, they can learn life skills, including emotional regulation, social skills, and more. In doing so, adolescents improve skills that can help maintain good mental health now and in the future. The care team at Sustain Recovery helps adolescents improve their self-awareness and build skills that work for them. This means that every individual works on unique coping skills that they can take back into their life after treatment. These skills help adolescents to heal from challenges with addiction, mental health, and trauma. To learn more about Sustain Recovery and how our programs can create lasting change, call (949) 407-9052 today.