Many times, adults think – and young people also imply it – that they no longer need us when they are in adolescence, underestimating the value of being their allies. 

TeenSmart International (2024) conducted an analysis of over 19,000 responses to health profiles on the JovenSalud platform to identify key factors significantly affecting the mental health of our young users. Findings revealed that violent behaviors (both perpetrating and experiencing violence), insufficient physical activity and nutrition, as well as tense family relationships, have detrimental effects on mental well-being. 

Therefore, family and peer relationships, where teens can trust, talk about concerns, problems, and receive support, have shown to be of unparalleled importance. Having a home as a safe place, free from violence, attentive to needs, and open to listening and dialogue, holds unique value in mental health and youth well-being. 

Adolescence presents significant challenges for parents and caregivers, which is why navigating them with patience, one day at a time, is of great importance. 

Some important metaphors have been proposed regarding the role of caregivers during this stage: 

1) As a companion on the “roller coaster.” Adolescence has ups and downs, extreme moods, dramas, and many strong emotions. We can’t pretend to take teenagers off that roller coaster, but we can be good companions who hold their hand, have fun with them, scream with them, and provide security. 

2) Like a lighthouse on the shore. In this analogy, young people are like those ships that venture into the ocean. They are new to sailing and gradually they will move further away from the coast. How good it is that they know there is a light to guide them, especially in the strongest storms! And that it shows them a path. They can always return to the shore when they wish. The boat and the lighthouse have very clear roles. The boat sails, conquers the sea, and discovers new destinations. The lighthouse keeps the light on and guides in the best possible way. 

3) As a cartographer, who investigates, studies, and prepares maps. Adolescence is a new area, a new landscape to explore. How good it is to have not only a map but also a person who knows some clues to understand it! 

Let’s not underestimate the value of being their allies. Let’s never stop making room in our homes to listen to their voices, their perspectives, and let that family space truly be THEIR space. 

Adriana Gómez

Mom of Juan Pablo (16) and  Gabriel (13)

Executive Director

The course on mental health, “Building Emotions” can be of great help for young people. Furthermore, all content and interventions seek to bring adolescents closer to their support networks and strengthen them. Recommend to all the Spanish-speaking people between 10 and 24 years old that you know.