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Positive Adolescent Mental Health: Resilience

“Resilient” adolescents are those who have managed to cope effectively, even in the face of stress and other difficult circumstances, and are poised to enter adulthood with a good chance of positive mental health.1,2 A number of factors promote resilience in adolescents—among the most important are caring relationships with adults and an easy-going disposition.3 Adolescents themselves can use a number of strategies, including exercising regularly, to reduce stress and promote resilience.4 Schools and communities are also recognizing the importance of resilience and general “emotional intelligence” in adolescents’ lives—a growing number of courses and community programs focus on adolescents’ social-emotional learning and coping skills.5,6

Learn more about the importance of resilience to an adolescent’s mental health:

  • Check out OAH’s library of federal adolescent health resources on mental health, in general and specific to positive mental health and resilience.
  • Positive youth development is one of the featured topics on youth.gov, a federal government web site that has information on a number of youth-related topics, particularly those relevant to strengthening youth-serving programs.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides resources for schools on how to improve school connectedness (students’ feeling that adults in their school care about them as individuals, as well as learners).
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services’ (SAMHSA) Center for Mental Health Services provides resources on how parents, mental health providers, schools, and communities can promote resilience in childhood and adolescence.
  • Girlshealth.gov, a website for adolescent females, has helpful tips on ways to build self-esteem, deal with change, and handle feelings.
  • The CDC’s BAM! Body and Mind website for children and younger adolescents has information on dealing with stress and anxiety in a healthy way. The site also features resources a separate section of resources for teachers, including materials and activities.


Zolkoski, S., & Bullock, L. (2012). Resilience in children and youth: A Review. Children and Youth Services Review, 34, 2295-2303. Retrieved May 17, 2016, from http://esd113.schoolwires.net/cms/lib3/WA01001093/Centricity/Domain/48/ResilienceResearchChildren.pdf.
Steinberg, L. (2005). Adolescence. 7th ed. Boston, MA: McGraw Hill.
Carr, A. (Ed.). (2011). Positive Psychology: The science of happiness and human strengths (Second ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. (2013). Facts for families: Helping teenagers with stress. Retrieved February 16, 2016, from http://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/Facts_for_Families_Pages/Helping_Teenagers_With_Stress_66.aspx
Snyder, F. J., Flay, B. R., Vucinich, S., Acock, A., Washburn, I. J., Beets, M. W., et al. (2010). Impact of a social-emotional and character development program on school-level indicators of academic achievement, absenteeism, and disciplinary outcomes: A matched-pair, cluster randomized, controlled trial. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 3(1), 26-55
Durlak, J. A., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., Weissberg, R. P., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students' social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82(1), 405-432.
Content created by Office of Adolescent Health
Content last reviewed on October 28, 2016