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The Benefits of After School Programs & How They Help Adolescent Girls’ Mental Development

After School Programs: A Positive Impact on Girls’ Mental Development

There is no doubt that young girls are resilient and eager. However, recent studies show that young girls, between their elementary and high school years, experience a shocking drop in self-confidence. Equally alarming is the number of girls that develop mental health issues earlier on in life.

How do we help young girls become more confident in themselves while simultaneously impacting their mental health in a positive way? First, by learning more about the issues surrounding women and their mental health.

The Stigma Surrounding Girls & Their Mental Health:

Today, there are misrepresentations, and equally alarming myths, stereotyping any person with a mental health condition. In fact, there are two types of stigmas on mental health.

  • Social Stigma: When individuals are subjected to discrimination and unfairly labeled.
  • Perceived or Self Stigma: Instances where individuals believe the negative perceptions others have of them and in turn feel guilt or shame.

What people don’t know is that these suffered infamies are most prevalent in women and young girls. In fact, studies have shown in our general population close to 40% of all women are more likely to develop mental health conditions compared to a much lower percentile of men.

These gender biases are proven to negatively segregate female roles in society which have led to increasing mental health conditions for women, i.e. anxiety, depression.

It is extremely important to take preventative measures early on, to avoid the increasing percentage of women suffering from mental health conditions. Which is why we might be able to solve these issues through bettering our interpersonal communication habits with girls and enrolling them in valuable after school programs.

Why Commit Your Girls to an After School Program:

After school programs can positively impact academic achievement in the short-term, while in the long-term, can help establish a solidity of mental health in adolescents.

That’s why carefully considering after school programs shouldn’t be a ‘one-size fits all’ approach. Instead, adults and girls should be more strategic when choosing an after-school program that has lasting takeaways. Here are a few examples:

  • Educational: The North Museum, located in Lancaster, PA, STEM Sisters Program inspires girls on thinking critically and encouraging curiosity around a future STEM career. Because there are only 24% of women in STEM Careers, this programs helps young girls discover new career paths. The program also professionally invests in girls earlier on, which can help stabilize a more confident mentality.
  • Community Involvement: Recently the Girl Scouts of America printed 23 new badges, giving girls more opportunities to learn about sciences, technology, engineering, and math. The Girl Scouts of America have continuously empowered girls at a very young age; to not only be involved within the community but also establishing a healthy outlook on life through perseverance and conviction.
  • Physical Recreation: The First Tee offers chapters throughout America that encourage young girls to take Golf lessons, learn the sport and work directly with female role models and coaches. The program is inspiring and empowering girls to become tomorrow’s leaders while also aiding in their athletic skills to earn potential scholarships.

How to Positively Impact Your Girls Through Interpersonal Communication:

Here are some good practices and techniques, for parents, guardians, and teachers alike, to help younger girls feel more confident in themselves:

Tips for Building Confidence in Your Girls:

  1. Encourage her interests
  2. Identify social media pressures & how to combat them
  3. Monitor the way you talk to her (i.e. using positive encouragement or empowering words)
  4. Give her a secure place to express herself; scientifically and/or artistically
  5. Talk about the importance of her self-confidence

It is extremely important to teach girls that being female is in fact a strength; never a weakness or vulnerability.

Academic involvement and utilizing positive communicative patterns for young girls may be a few steps in helping their adolescent development, but there are more ways that you can help avoid the symptoms of mental illness. Contact us at Fairmount to learn more about appropriate steps to helping your daughter, step-daughter, or grand-daughter.


References:

The Davison Institute: http://www.davidsongifted.org/

Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com

Time Online: http://ideas.time.com

The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com

World Health Organization: http://www.who.int

Mental Health Net: https://www.mentalhelp.net

North Museum, Lancaster PA: https://northmuseum.org

Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls: https://amysmartgirls.com/

The First Tee: https://thefirsttee.org

The Fast Company: https://www.fastcompany.com

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If a psychiatric disorder or chemical dependency affects you or a loved one, please call 215-487-4100. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to perform no-cost assessments and answer questions on programs and admissions.