One of the ways Residential Programs benefit adolescents is through a holistic and integrated approach to both physical and mental health. The residential experience, as opposed to outpatient support, is contained within an intentionally managed environment from the time adolescents wake up until, well, the time they wake up the next day. Many students find almost immediate benefit through the cumulative effects of supportive engagement in regular physical exercise, social involvement and integration, academic or other mental stimulation, healthy food choices, and even building and maintaining a structured sleep pattern.
In a recent study published by The Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, a direct link was found between sleep disorders in children and their mental health. By investigating the sleep habits, and mental health, of over 1000 children between the ages of 4 and 6, researchers were able to identify a significant correlation between sleep disorders and increased instances of anxiety, depression, and ADHD. Similarly, there was a strong correlation between mental health challenges and sleep, and though researchers were unable to discern a direction in the cause/effect relationship, the two are clearly linked.
The brain is a complex organ, and while there is still much that is unknown about sleep and the part rest plays in alert neurological functioning, it is clear that most of, children, teens, and young adults included, aren’t getting enough of it. This study simply adds another piece to the puzzle, but the picture on the box is clear enough - get more sleep because sleep is good for your health, both mentally and physically. Enacting this advice can be difficult, and even little things, like looking at a screen (including your phone) before bed may also have a negative impact on sleep, and can be especially problematic for adolescents. Temptations with phones, tablets, and video games can all conspire to keep adolescents up well beyond what is most healthy, and breaking these habits can be challenging.
When considering the benefits of residential programming, and evaluating available programs, it is worth considering the correlation between healthy living, and healthy sleeping, and overall physical and mental health. Finding a program that can provide a holistic approach to helping your adolescent be healthier, both mentally and physically, can be an important step in helping your family heal.
ABOUT THE AUTHORJake Weld holds a masters degree in education and has over twenty years of experience in traditional, LD, and therapeutic schools, adolescent and young adult programs, and conventional, wilderness, and residential settings. He has served as the Executive Director of a therapeutic boarding school, the Assistant Headmaster of a specialized LD boarding school, and as the Academic and Program Director of various schools and programs. He is currently the Director of Admissions and Business Development for Mansfield Hall, a specialized college support program in Burlington, VT, and Madison, WI.