Living in a city or in crowded suburbs can take a toll on the mental health of children, teens, and adults. But for teens grappling with mental health issues, the opportunity to get into trouble while they are struggling is far higher.
To help combat this, some residential treatment centers for troubled teens are located away from crowded cities and close to nature. That way, in these natural environments, teens can start to heal and learn healthier habits.
Research Shows Mental Health Benefits Of Nature Immersion
Sometimes, nature is the best medicine, especially when it comes to mental health. As researchers have found, there are a number of mental health benefits associated with even just living by greenspace.
A couple of the most notable is that spending time in nature can significantly lower stress and alleviate anxiety. Being in natural environments has also been noted to help reduce symptoms of depression.
Also, on the more purely cognitive side, the working of the human brain benefits from being in nature. For children specifically, researchers have noted that their cognitive ability improves, and immersion in nature helps with attention deficits.
Troubled Teens Can Benefit From Programs Involving Nature
With the clear mental health benefits to being in nature, it makes more sense why troubled teen programs tend to opt for locations that are in or near nature and far from crowded cities. For our residential treatment center—Sundance Canyon Academy—we have seen firsthand how our students thrive in more nature-centric, therapeutic environments.
New, wholesome environment – Being outside of their old environment can help many teens make different choices. For teens who have lived predominately in crowded urban areas, it can be easy to get stuck in a mental rut. Yet, once they are away from negative influences—whether a bad situation at school, peer pressure, etc.—and in nature, teenagers can feel freer to make healthy changes.
Excellent learning opportunities – Nature is a wonderful teacher. Consider the majesty of a full-grown tree. That tree has weathered storms, fought for the nutrients to grow, and provided shelter for countless creatures. Even if your teen isn’t explicitly taught these concepts, just hiking through the woods can help teach subconscious lessons like the impressive nature of trees.
Release of “feel-good” hormones – Whether teens are being led through meditative yoga or taking a hike through the beautiful outdoors, exercise benefits kick in. With exercise, the “feel-good” hormones like endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin are released and combine with the mental health benefits of being in nature to uplift struggling teenagers.
Create positive memories – As teens really start to work on self-improvement, they may struggle with their negative memories of how they acted and what they have gone through. To help teens from dwelling on these thoughts, being in nature, exploring new areas, and learning new things can help create positive memories, which can cushion the memory of less happy times.
Experiential therapy – A therapeutic practice that emphasizes new, positive experiences, teens are particularly receptive to experiential therapy. Rather than sitting and talking about feelings—which is important, but can be a lot for teenagers to handle—teens can go into nature and experience new, positive growth with the guidance of direct care staff.
Sundance Canyon Academy Combines Nature With Therapy
The benefits of being out in nature are combined with therapy when teens attend Sundance Canyon Academy. At our residential treatment center, teens have therapy built into their daily schedule alongside weekday academic classes. Also, our campuses proximity to natural areas allows us to take students into nature regularly so that they can receive the benefits from being immersed in nature.
If you are interested in learning more about how our troubled teen program combines therapy, nature, academics, and more to help teenage boys heal and grow, feel free to contact us today.