Iowa 4-H Mental Health and Well-Being

Mindful Teen: From Surviving to THRIVING

Being a teenager involves a lot of external and internal pressure and stress, in addition to one’s own development, exploration and discovery of personal identities, as well as decisions about the future. These life stressors can often bring about difficult thoughts and emotions. Stress can also increase participation in risky, unhealthy behaviors. Research shows that daily mindfulness practice can have a significantly positive impact on a person’s overall health and wellness, including mental and physical health.

Some specific benefits of mindfulness include the following:

  • Cognitive Outcomes: Better focus and concentration.
  • Social-Emotional Skills: Improved emotional regulation and self-awareness; increased empathy, compassion, and understanding in attitudes and behavior.
  • Well-Being: Decreased stress, anxiety, and depression; increased sense of calm and self-esteem; improved sleep, relationships, and performance in school, work, sports, and other activities.

A survey administered by the National 4-H Council in 2020 reported that 82% of youth wished America would talk more openly about mental health. A Center for Disease Control and Prevention study reported that rates of suicide among youth and young adults ages 10-24 increased 60% between 2007-2018. As positive youth development professionals and caring adults, we must listen to youths’ needs and interests and empower them through relevant programming and opportunities to learn positive and healthy coping strategies in addition to tools they can practice and apply in their current life and as future adults so they can reach their full potential and support their overall well-being.

Mindful Teen: From Surviving to THRIVING! is 6-session curriculum based on the book, The Mindful Teen: Powerful Skills to Help You Handle Stress One Moment at a Time by Dr. Dzung Vo, and helps foster mindfulness skill development, thoughtful reflection, and aims to reduce stress and risk of mental illness.

Learning Objectives:

  • Define the concept of mindfulness and its connection to stress management and overall well-being.
  • Explain the benefits of mindfulness.
  • Discover, reflect upon, and demonstrate a variety of mindfulness practices.
  • Utilize mindfulness techniques to improve well-being, relationships, and academic or extracurricular performance.
  • Establish long-term self-care and mindfulness goals.
  • Recall local and national resources to seek help if experiencing mental illness such as depression, anxiety and/or thoughts of suicide

“Mindful Teen helped me feel accepted, calm, relaxed, and more in control of my body & emotions.” – Youth participant

“Having a child with mental health issues, both he and I found this program quite helpful. The breathing techniques and other relaxation techniques has been helping with his anxiety and depression.” – Parent of participant

Mindfulness Facilitator Training

Iowa 4-H requests that all individuals delivering The Mindful Teen program attends a training, which is offered virtually 2-3 times per year. Training is open to 4-H and other ISU Extension staff, current or potential volunteers, and community and school partners who are interested in and passionate about empowering helping provide our youth and families with practical tools, skills, and mindful practices to support their mental health and overall well-being. The fee to participate is $60, which includes a hard copy of The Mindful Teen facilitator guide, The Mindful Teen book, journal, and other training materials. Training topics include the following:

  • Introduction to Mindfulness
  • Supporting Research, Evidence, and Benefits of Mindfulness for Youth and Adults
  • Introduction to Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness
  • Principles for Communication, Working with Adolescents, and Resistance
  • Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Considerations
  • Mindful Practices
  • Integrating Mindfulness and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Programs
  • Overview of 4-H Mindful Teen lessons and Alignment with Iowa Department of Education, CDC National Health Education, & SHAPE America Standards
  • Sharing of other 4-H mindfulness programs and resources

Upcoming Training

Date: January 18th, 10am-3:30pm
Location: Virtual - a Zoom link will be sent 2 weeks prior to training
Cost: $70
Register Here: https://go.iastate.edu/0CBECW

THRIVE Youth-Adult Retreat

Step away from the busyness of life for a unique weekend retreat to explore healthy and fun ways to recharge your mind, heart, and body!

The THRIVE retreat is offered during a fall weekend at the Des Moines YMCA Camp near Boone, Iowa. It is open to any 7th-12th grader and an accompanying caring adult (parent or other adult caregiver or mentor) to take time for themselves, connect with each other and new friends, and discover the benefits of mindfulness through nature, the arts, movement, and other mindful practices. Participants will also get to enjoy camp activities like zip-lining, archery, hiking, horseback riding, canoeing, and a bonfire. Updates and registration for future THRIVE Retreats can be found on the THRIVE Youth-Adult Retreat webpage.

Check out this video from the 2022 THRIVE retreat.​​​​​​​

Youth Mental Health First Aid Training

Young adults can experience mental health and addiction challenges. This course introduces common mental health challenges for youth and reviews typical adolescent development. You will learn a 5-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations.
Intended audience: Adults who work with youth (ages 6-18)

  • 8-hour certification training OR
  • Online: 2-hour self-study course plus 6-hour virtual instructor-led certification training

Professionals who work with youth (4-H and FFA volunteers, teachers, youth pastors, etc.) can use the code YOUTHPRO to register at no cost.
Link to training: https://www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/MHFA