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How Boot Camp Makes Mental Health Disorders Worse

Boot camps for troubled teens are often marketed as a cure-all for struggling teens, especially teenage boys, as they push that all these teens need is strict discipline and physical activity. While there is merit to providing teens with structure, discipline, and regular exercise, when it comes to mental health, teens need more than what boot camps offer.

In fact, by having their mental health go unaddressed and hoping that a boot camp will fix the problems, teens can suffer lifelong consequences.

To help you see how boot camps can make your teen’s mental health worse—and what you should do instead of sending your teen to a boot camp—Sundance Canyon Academy is here with needed insights.

Boot Camps Are One-Size-Fits-All

At boot camps for troubled teens, the attending teens follow a strict schedule of exercise and physical exertion. No matter the issue that the teen is struggling with, be it depression or bipolar disorder, boot camps’ solution is for teens to exercise to “fix” the problem.

Think about it—how would you react if someone suggested that all your struggles could be cured by just exercising regularly. Received a bad review at work and are on probation? Just go on a run! Going through a nasty divorce? Lift some weights and feel magically better.

While there is definitely a place for exercise in supporting mental health, it is obvious that it can’t be the only answer, which is how boot camps approach troubled teens’ mental health.

Emotionally Fragile Teens Need Support, Not Push-Ups

Teens who are struggling with mental health problems don’t receive the support they need to heal and overcome their issues. The camp program is not designed as an emotionally supportive environment, which can further erode your teen’s already shaky mental stability.

Say that your son struggles with anxiety and isn’t very physically fit. Attending a boot camp can cause his anxiety to become far worse as he isn’t able to keep up with the instructors and other boys. Also, those teens who are unable to keep up are often disciplined—much like in a military boot camp—with more exercise.

So, instead of feeling better, all your son feels is increased social anxiety, shame at his lack of fitness, and overwhelming physical exhaustion. While it is possible that your son can develop greater physical fitness in a boot camp, that does nothing to address the initial anxiety and lingering sense of shame.

Boot Camps Lack Therapeutic Aspect

Sometimes, parents of troubled teens can feel frustrated with the lack of progress that their teens make in therapy and hope that boot camp can produce better results. However, once a week talk therapy can only do so much for a teen who is struggling with their mental health.

Yet, even that once a week therapy is better than the zero therapy that occurs at boot camps, as they are not structured to include therapy. Without a therapeutic aspect, teens cannot make permanent changes to their lives, as they lack the tools to make those alterations.

Rather than leave your teen to struggle through a boot camp—and frankly, waste your money—a therapeutic boarding school is a much better option for a teen who is struggling with mental illness.

Opt For More Support For Your Troubled Teen

While boot camps are not a supportive environment for teens who are struggling with their mental health, therapeutic boarding schools like Sundance Canyon Academy are designed to help struggling teens flourish.

At a therapeutic boarding school for troubled teens, attending teenagers will be immersed in a wholesome, therapeutic environment. Weekly one-on-one sessions with their therapist, daily group therapy, weekly family therapy sessions, and experiential therapy work together to help teens develop healthier coping habits as they learn to manage their mental health.

If you would like to learn more about our therapeutic boarding school and want to discover if it is a good fit for your teenage son’s needs, feel free to contact us. We are more than happy to talk to you about our program and help you see if we can help your son become the man you know he can become.

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