Toxic Relationships and Teenage Mental Health

How toxic relationships can be detrimental to a teenagers mental health

Toxic Relationships and Teenage Mental Health

Erin Sweeney, Writer

Maintaining and building a positive mental health can be hard work for many people, especially teenagers in high school. An important component in working on that mental health is  the relationships teens keep in their lives. Although building and sustaining strong relationships to ones closest to them is essential, discarding and leaving toxic relationships behind is just as important. Toxic relationships can affect mental health in many negative ways, and it is crucial for teenagers to cite those toxic relationships and remove themselves from them. 

Toxic relationships can be the worst thing for a healthy mental state. The Mental Health Foundation, a foundation committed to helping those who struggle with mental health, says,  “In seeking to combat loneliness and isolation we need to be aware that poor-quality relationships can be toxic and worse for our mental health than being alone.” Sometimes it is easier to believe that having someone at your side is better than being alone, even if that someone is causing more problems than they are solving. In reality, being in toxic relationships can induce unnecessary anxiety and stress, particularly in teenagers. During high school, teenagers need a trustworthy relationship that they can count on, not a flaky, false relationship. With all the stresses of grades and extracurriculars, toxic relationships can become dreadful and hard for teenagers.

Not only do toxic relationships cause stress and anxiety, they cause doubts and dips in confidence. Chandra White Cummings, managing editor for an online mental health magazine, says, “Toxic relationships cause feelings of low self-worth, helplessness, fear, anxiety, depression, insecurity, paranoia, and even narcissism.” Lowered levels of confidence and feelings of self-worth are common contributors to depression and a poor mental health. Many times in toxic relationships there is one party making the other doubt themselves or their self-image. Being in a relationship that makes teens feel bad about themselves in any way is damaging to their self-worth and mental health. When teenagers feel bad about the way they look or how they act, their self-confidence drops and affects their grades, relationships, and performance in extra curricular activities.

Toxic relationships sometimes entail subtle manipulation and lies that are sometimes hard to identify. The Mental Health Association of East Tennessee, a blog used to help people with their mental health, says, “Manipulative people will often take your personal truths and incorporate small lies within them, making you believe their version to be true. They will fight to keep you feeling small and insignificant through their subtle judgement and passive aggression.” In order to feel better about themselves, some teenagers will put their friends and close ones down to achieve that feeling. To avoid being alone, many teens will ignore toxic traits in their current friends or choose to see past them, though it is actually worse for their mental health than being alone. One of the most important things a teenager can do to protect themselves and their mental health is to acknowledge toxic issues in a relationship, and either address  or remove themselves from the relationship.

Although having relationships with friends and family is important to a teenager’s mental health, it is just as important to recognize and address toxic relationships. Toxic relationships contribute to higher levels of stress and anxiety, decrease confidence, and can be manipulative. These relationships can become sources of dread for teenagers, as opposed to something to confide in and look forward to. Being alone is not always the same thing as being lonely, a crucial difference for teens to realize when trying to leave a toxic relationship behind.