Horticultural Therapy: 3 Mental Health Benefits of Gardening for Teens

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), roughly 4.4 million children between the ages of 3-17 in the U.S. have diagnosable anxiety and 1.9 million have diagnosable depression.

Not only are anxiety disorders and depression common in teens, but there could be other mood disorders and mental health issues present in adolescents. For example, mental health issues such as bipolar disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder, borderline personality disorder, autism spectrum disorder, or even gender dysphoria can all be mental health disorders that teens may develop.

You and your teen(s) have options

Luckily, the Polaris Teen Center has many options to get your teen the help they need. At the Polaris Teen treatment center you will find family therapists, trained therapists, and psychiatrists with backgrounds in pediatrics and training to handle all the issues mentioned above with solutions that work for you and your child.

At Polaris Teen Center, the counselors and specifically trained doctors all use an individualized evidence-based approach. This means that, at Polaris, your teen will get the individualized care they need for their own personality and their own issues. Whether your teen needs a residential treatment center to deal with a substance abuse disorder, or if they’re struggling with bulimia or anorexia, or if your teen just needs a treatment center for psychiatric treatment and family therapy, Polaris has options for you.

Polaris also offers different types of therapy such as “recreational therapy” that uses environmental factors to treat related disorders. This approach has been proven to have emotional, physical, and cognitive benefits. An example of this type of residential treatment would be gardening.

Check out out these three ways horticultural therapy can help your teen:

1. Eases Anxiety and Depression

According to Healthline, studies have shown that horticultural therapy has the potential to ease symptoms of anxiety and depression, improve attention, lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone), increase the quality of life, and interrupt “harmful ruminations” (a symptom of anxiety). Therefore, potentially aiding in long-term happiness in everyone who participates.

To grow some awesome blossoms, check out Hydro Blossom. Hydro Blossom is a hydroponic info website that will help you get started on your teen's planting journey. Getting a hydroponic system will allow you to start an indoor garden. A hydroponic garden is the best way for the beginner to start a garden because it teaches the basics of plants while letting you control the conditions inside the comfort of your own home (so it’s ideal for anxiety disorders that may make your teen not want to be outdoors frequently). 

The great thing about a hydroponic system is that it doesn’t require soil (so, less mess), you can control the temperature and moisture levels so you’re not dependent on a specific season, the plants tend to grow faster and more efficiently this way, and it doesn’t waste water since there’s no soil to soak up unnecessary water.

2. Teaches Acceptance

According to Dr. Seth J. Gillihan, who wrote an article for Psychology Today last year, there are many mental health benefits to gardening. It can be challenging to grow different types of plants. This symmetry to challenges in our life can help us accept and let go of negative thoughts, the need for perfection, and the need for control. While there is some control in both aspects, you can’t MAKE a plant grow; you can only help it (much like life). This has the potential to teach your teen to approach their problems with what Dr. Gillihan describes as a “growth mindset” as opposed to responding to challenges with hopelessness.

3. Connection to Nature and Health

Having an indoor garden can provide your teen with a unique way to connect to nature. The Psychology Today article notes how research has found multiple benefits to observing nature including less anxiety, less depression, and better “stress management.” This can allow your “teen grower” to gain more resilience and to better see all their options from a calmer mindset.

Also, a garden will help your teen remain focused on their health. According to Psychology Today, having a garden can provide the “freshest and healthiest” foods. Two studies have shown a link between positive dietary changes being an effective treatment for depression and found the best results in the Mediterranean diet (which emphasizes “whole food” like the foods the garden will provide).

According to Hydro Blossom, a hydroponic system can allow you to grow your favorite fruits and vegetables in any season without the use of harmful chemicals since you can calculate plant growth by monitoring the humidity level and growth rate. Some of the best plants to try to grow in your hydroponic garden are tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, strawberries, blueberries, herbs, cucumbers, onions, and peppers. All of which are extremely rich in vitamins and nutrients such as folate, vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber, antioxidants, and much more.

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