Is Mainstream Mental Health Advice Helping or Hurting Young Girls?

Is Mainstream Mental Health Advice Helping or Hurting Young Girls?

It felt like impending doom.

In 2023, my anxiety became unbearable.

I was in the midst of a chronic health issue from mold toxicity that wrecked several systems in my body – neurological, digestive, hormonal, and immune. All of the symptoms were horrible, but nothing beat the neurological damage.

I developed horrific anxiety.

I thought I was never going to get better since I had been dealing with severe fatigue, brain fog, stomach upset, chronic sore throat, nasal obstruction and lack of oxygen to my brain for several months. I thought the symptoms would never cease because no doctor was able to help me. At month 3 of illness, the future looked bleak.

Mind you, I never had anxiety before my health took a downward spiral, except when I was in an abusive relationship as a teenager, I had true anxiety then, too.

I always hear people throw around statements like “I’m anxious” or “I have anxiety” and always wondered what they meant. Did they have a serious problem, or was it them complaining about the stressors of everyday life?

Just like every other human, I have experienced everyday anxiety.

I’ve been nervous before college soccer games.

I’ve been anxious before speaking engagements.

But I’ve never experienced crippling anxiety until 2023.

This type of anxiety is terrifying. It truly feels like impending doom, and it feels like there’s a veil between you and reality. During my health issues, I developed a de-realization which was by far the most jarring symptom. Life became mindless, unreal, and distorted. I didn’t feel like I was physically in the world, and as a result, lost my identity. I was in a daze.

Too, the chronic sleep deprivation didn’t help either. My anxiety kept me up at night, and I would stare at the ceiling waiting for the world to come crashing down. I was lucky to get 40 minutes of sleep a night, and the thought of going on benzodiazepines became tempting.

Since I was aware of the horrific reactions people had when coming off of benzos, I contemplated another solution.

“I need therapy. I can’t snap out of this,” I said to my husband.

It’s worth mentioning that there were no suicidal or self harm thoughts during all of this, so let me clarify that first. I just couldn’t take the de-realization any longer.

My husband replied, “you don’t need therapy for this. You’re stronger than you think. I know you feel sick and hopeless, but you’re not sick. You’re stronger than this. Go out there, serve and stop avoiding the things you love doing because you feel sick.”

After he said that to me, I took charge of my life.

Instead of taking off and staying at home all day, I increased my coaching hours again. I started writing more. I finished my book Female Athlete High Performance.

I took on more speaking engagements, despite the pain in my throat. I researched medical journals and the impact of daily Omega 3 fatty acid intake on boosting brain function. I went for more walks with my husky, despite my fatigue. I started lifting weights again. I went out to support my athletes at their soccer games, despite my urge to isolate and wallow in my pain.

My health got better and better the less I focused on myself, my sickness, my worries. It got better when I focused more on others and their needs.

My health got better and better the more I focused less on myself, my sickness, my worries, and when I focused more on others and their needs. Click To Tweet

This is the opposite of most mental health advocates nowadays who broadcast self care all over their social media platforms.

I get when you’re sick you want to resort to isolating yourself, having mental health days, and lounging in your bed, but I got worse when I did all of these. I got worse when I listened to mainstream mental health advice, “just take some time!” and “practice self care!” Yes, do these in emergencies and take care of what you need to take care of, but if you’re able to get out, move, and be in the world…do it. You’d be surprised how your misery takes a drastic turn for the better.

Life became meaningful again when I started to serve others despite my sickness. Life became meaningful when I made it less about me and my symptoms, and more about something greater than myself.

Mainstream mental health focuses way too much on the person going within to heal, which can cause you to become more in your own head and hyper focused on your thoughts.

Getting out saved me. Thinking about myself less saved me.

Each week, each month, I got better until I fully healed the week of my wedding.

No therapy. No magical supplements. No benzos or SSRIs. No self care rituals.

Just simply taking on the burden of responsibility, thinking about myself and my thoughts less, providing service in my community, getting out in the world, and doing what brought others around me joy.

Through all of this, I found fulfillment again.

Even if you feel awful, serving others provides meaning and purpose.

Even if you feel awful, serving others provides meaning and purpose. Click To Tweet

The Downfall of Mainstream Mental Health Advice

Yes, I’m one story, and what works for me won’t work for everyone. However, I do believe it’s worth sharing because not a lot of young girls are encouraged to take on responsibility and serve others as possible solutions to their mental health issues.

I do want to be clear:

I’m not anti-therapy. I’m not anti-support groups. Nor am I anti-medications. You MUST consult a doctor first to discuss all options, then make an informed decision. Some people have been saved through such interventions, which is why I want to provide this disclaimer.

There’s a time and place for all of these depending on the severity of one’s mental health situation and hey, if they respond best to these and actually improve, then fantastic.

Therapy, for example, helped me as a teenager when I was in an abusive relationship.

However, it wasn’t the only thing that saved me in this horrific situation.

During this time, I also forced myself to be with my friends more, get out to high school sporting events, do more strength training, practice my soccer skills on my own, play pick-up soccer and play the clarinet more.

We can’t discount things like cultivating in person connections, having hobbies, interacting with the world, and following meaningful passions as ways to mitigate mental health issues.

We can't discount things like cultivating in person connections, having hobbies, interacting with the world, and following meaningful passions as ways to mitigate mental health issues. Click To Tweet

The therapy helped, but so did all of the other things I pursued during this time. So I can’t point to therapy as being the single solution to saving me.

In my book The Strong Female Athlete, I discuss in the final chapter how soccer saved my life and played a massive role in me crawling out of my rock bottom depression.

When Therapy Might Make Things Worse

It becomes problematic and worse for girls when therapy is shoved down their throats when ANY issue comes up.

Just go to therapy if you feel stressed from too much homework. Or from a fight with a friend. Or gossip. Or a poor grade on an exam. Or losing a soccer game. Or not getting playing time. Just go to therapy when things don’t go your way!

I’m not diminishing these issues. Girls should feel their feelings when these occur, but do they need therapy for EVERY stressor in life? Do they need therapy at a young age when their brains need to learn how to navigate tough social situations? And how to overcome challenges? What happens when they don’t know how to fail, or be criticized, or feel left out? Because guess what? Life is life, and you’ll continue to experience these things as long as you’re a human on planet Earth.

Full disclosure: I was a super awkward kid, had social anxiety, and as a result, I had no friends to sit with at the lunch table.

I ate lunch in the bathroom.

Middle school was pretty terrible to say the least. It can be for a lot of girls.

But I got through it. And girls can, too.

I decided to put myself out there and be social. I had to overcome my nervousness and social anxiety. I had to suck it up and be bold.

I didn’t need a therapist. I learned on my own to seek out 2-4 close friends, rather than be the popular kid. I was okay with not being in the cool crowd for all those years. I became excited about my few friends who I eventually sat with at the lunch table.

I still take this lesson to today in my 30s where I put myself out there and get to know other female business owners. I go to events. I attend workshops. I interact with the outside world. Yes, I still get nervous before these events because I’m highly introverted, but I always leave feeling energized and excited! I’m grateful I push myself out of my comfort zone because it’s always worth it.

I also have learned to value deep connections, rather than having a roster of 30 friends who all talk bad about one another and who aren’t even close.

Truthfully, I only have a handful of close friends and I’m totally pumped about it.

Moreover, when something goes wrong in my adult life, it’s not a bomb. I can handle it. It just is what it is because of lot of crappy things happened to me at a young age and I dealt with them with courage. I overcame a lot on my own, and that to me was empowering. Now, I’m equipped like a warrior.

It’s worth pondering these questions before we suggest therapy and coaching groups to girls for every stressful event:

Are we teaching girls to face the horrors of the world with bravery?

Are we teaching girls to negotiate?

Are we encouraging them to problem solve?

Or are we putting them in coddled environments that don’t prepare them for interacting with reality?

Are we dis-empowering them by having someone else be the savior all the time?

After all, meaning comes from being the heroine of your own story, and overcoming failures, difficulties, and tragedies with courage.

I teach this in the weight room weekly.

You can’t get stronger, unless you challenge yourself.

Building strength, physical AND mental, is only possible when you get uncomfortable.

Building strength, physical AND mental, is only possible when you get uncomfortable. Click To Tweet

Therapy can be non-negotiable for severe issues and can save one’s life, but when it’s constantly suggested for every single stressful event and feeling of anxiety/nervousness, that’s when we don’t teach our girls how to wrestle with life on their own.

It’s important for them to flirt with risk and discomfort at times.

Do we want our girls safe or strong?

Why Broadcasting Your Struggles Fuels Your Demise

“Speak out about mental health!”

“Share your struggles!”

“Be vulnerable!”

These sound warm and fuzzy, don’t they?

These sound like they would cure you from serious mental health issues.

But are the influencers who are sharing their deepest, darkest struggles actually healed? Are they better? Or are they more chaotic than ever before? Are they more disconnected from reality and other people? Do they have in person, deep connections? It’s worth observing, and asking.

“Ye shall know them by their fruits.” – Matthew 7:16

Pay attention. Who has overcome their struggles, rather than just talk about them?

I’m not saying someone has to be 100% healed and perfect, but they should at least be better. That’s the person I want to take advice from and follow.

Why aren’t people getting better, despite opening up about mental health more than ever before? Why are more girls suffering depression and anxiety?

It’s because they’re still isolated.

Vocalizing your mental health struggles on the internet doesn’t make you more connected.

When you think you’re connecting with others by spilling your guts and sharing your feelings online, you’re really disconnecting because the strangers online don’t give two craps about you.

When you think you're connecting with others by spilling your guts and sharing your feelings online, you're really disconnecting because the strangers online don't give two craps about you. Click To Tweet

Even if you get the glowing comment on your vulnerable post “you’re amazing for speaking out!”, it’s still a dopamine hit. Then, you come crashing down again because you didn’t solve the root of your problem. You’re still isolated when you go home at the end of the day, waiting for your next slew of comments fromg strangers online to applaud you for your struggles.

Why not, instead of broadcasting on the internet about how hard things are, and instead, go to a trusted friend, or loved one, or family member, and share your intimate feelings there? Why post online? WHY POST ONLINE? Is there a desire for validation going on? Deeply ask this question, especially if it triggers you.

The moment my anxiety hit me and I was going through the thick of it, I went straight to my husband, not to my 16,000 followers who are complete strangers. Some things should remain intimate to you and deserve privacy.

The moment my anxiety hit me and I was going through the thick of it, I went straight to my husband, not to my 16,000 followers who are complete strangers. Some things should remain intimate to you and deserve privacy. Click To Tweet

Too, my husband knows me on a deep level, and can provide me with way better advice than the abyss of the internet. And most people who live on the internet 24/7 are volatile. I prefer a level-headed, logical voice, like my husband, to share my struggles with. And if I hadn’t, God only knows how much worse my anxiety would have become.

And for those of you saying, “well, what if they have no one to go to and need an outlet?!”

For starters, I’ve never heard one person say they healed their mental health illness from advice on Reddit.

Two, I find it hard to believe that they have NO ONE to confide in.

You’d have to be a total jerk and burn every bridge in your life that you don’t even have ONE close, trusted friend. If you have to go to strangers on the internet, that’s an issue in itself and could be the root of the problem.

And say you actually don’t have friends, all the more reason to get out into the world and interact. The biggest causes of depression are loneliness and social isolation (Ge at al 2017).

Join that community service group.  Join that book club. Join that recreational flag football team. Join that networking group. Join that girls’ church group. Take action. Do something. ANYTHING.

If isolation is the problem, then it’s not the solution.

Yes, it’s hard and most days you’re going to have to force yourself to go, but you need to get out into the world to heal yourself.

I didn’t want to coach more hours because of how anxious and ill I was, but I forced myself, and eventually it all got easier until I healed months later.

Your mental health matters, so go out there and be bold.

“But what about posting about my struggles so people can relate?! I can help someone!”

I get this argument a lot, but I challenge you with this: is relating on how much is wrong with you solving the problem, or feeding the problem? It’s good to relate to someone and share similar struggles, but does it remind others of how ill they are? And does this need to be done on the internet to people you don’t know?

Also, if there’s no action behind overcoming these relatable struggles, it can be useless.

The Problem with Attaching to a Diagnosis

Another reason why it’s dangerous to broadcast your issues online is because you make your problems, your diagnosis, and your struggles your identity. They become your story. Your reality. Your life. Your brand.

I’ve seen influencers with “Depressed” and “Mental Health Sufferer” and “ADHD” as labels in their bios. Of course, I get it is well-intentioned that they want others to relate to them, but for the people following, don’t they want to provide hope? Don’t they want to provide a solution? Don’t they want to inspire people they can get better? Don’t they want to let people know you can leave your diagnosis behind one day?

Oftentimes, there are no actionable solutions with these “mental health advocate” accounts.

People attach to their diagnoses, keep them in their bios, and live with them for a lifetime.

This is not inspiring for young girls.

Any chronic condition can be reversed, and young girls need to be told there is hope.

Dr. Ellen Langer, a professor of psychology at Harvard, also known as the “mother of mindfulness” is one of my go-to professionals for overcoming chronic health issues. Whether physical or mental health, Dr. Langer has a unique, fresh take on how how people can heal themselves through mindfulness.

She’s conducted hundreds of studies on the interaction between mind and body, and how the mind plays a pivotal role in whether people heal or don’t heal from any chronic condition.

One study showed that when people attached being sick to their identity they continued to get sick, while the group who detached, got better. A group of men older than 60 were placed in an environment where they listened to music from when they were younger, they played games as if they were younger, and relived experiences from their youth. After being immersed in this environment, the subjects health markers were measured, and there were improvements in their vision, feeling, and athleticism. It’s because they were living as if they were young again. It doesn’t have to get worse as you age, nor does it have to get worse if you’re diagnosed with mental illness.

Just like with physical training, you can always improve with mental training.

This is the mental health messaging girls need.

Since no one is giving empowering solutions on the internet, here are some to consider, based off of mind-body psychology, neuroscience, and nutritional psychiatry.

1. Change Your Brain Through Food

“It’s a chemical imbalance,” they say.

My question is, what causes a chemical imbalance?

At the most basic level, food changes the chemistry of your brain. My favorite psychiatrist, Dr. Georgia Ede, couldn’t have said it any better:

“The most powerful way to change brain chemistry is with food, because that’s where brain chemicals come from in the first place.”

Here is what the brain is made up of:

Hmm. Are we over-carbing and sugaring at the expense of cutting fats and protein? I’ve not met one young girl who is eating enough healthy fats. Not one.

Yes, carbs are important and have their strategic place in athletic performance, but there is an over-glorification of these at the expense of drastically cutting fats and proteins. I rarely see a fat and protein forward plan nowadays. Maybe I’ll see a salmon on the menu once a week, but this isn’t enough. Omega 3 and saturated fat intake from single ingredient foods (eggs, avocado, salmon, steak) needs to be daily.

If you’re really struggling, I implore you to watch this entire presentation on nutrition for mental health:

Sadly, the majority of young girls are starving their brains of essential nutrients. They’re severely deficient in Omega 3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA. It’s not their fault, though, because they’ve been blasted with the messaging “skinny” and “low fat” and “skim” all these years.

They think they’re being healthy by going to Starbucks for that skinny latte, when they’re really destroying their mental health silently over time because they’re under-fatted and over-sugared.

They think they're being healthy by going to Starbucks for that skinny latte, when they're really destroying their mental health silently over time because they're under-fatted and over-sugared. Click To Tweet

They think their nutrition plan is legit because it was sent to them by a professional, but they wonder why the reduced fat and cottage cheese and lean chicken breast aren’t helping their mental health. They’re still anxious and depressed and on a roller coaster of emotions. Their PMS symptoms are still amplified during that time of month.

Dr. Elizabeth Bright, a medical doctor who specializes in thyroid function in girls and women, says that if girls don’t get fat during adolescence, they will be behind in their hormonal and brain development. Too, she explains how cholesterol from animal-based foods is needed for hormonal function since female sex hormones are derived from cholesterol. Girls have been lied to about fats for all of these years and it shows.

Girls need way more fatty acids for their brains to develop during adolescence, and the myelin sheath around the neurotransmitters to becomes strong.

These essetial fatty acids (DHA and EPA) only come from animal-based products, like meat, eggs, cheese and fish. Consistently eating healthy fats and proteins regulates mood, improves sleep, and increases focus and memory. Better yet, these animal-based foods have other brain boosting nutrients such as B vitamins, zinc, magnesium and selenium.

The vegan crowd will lie and say, “well, they can get fats from nuts and seeds!” Nuts and seeds do not contain DHA and EPA, and they’re not as bioavailable as animal-based fats, so girls don’t actually absorb as many nutrients as they think. Girls would have to eat heaps of nuts and seeds to squeak out these nutrients. So put away the salads and the twigs, ladies, and grab your bacon and eggs!

Upping fat significantly can be enough to put any severe mental illness into remission – from OCD, to anorexia, to depression, to anxiety, and even, to schizophrenia. Dr. Georgia Ede gives a handful of studies as well as stories of her patients in her book, Change Your Diet Change Your Mind. Dr. Chris Palmer and Dr. Amen also have done so with their patients.

Proper nourishment literally changes brain metabolism, and when girls are satiated from high fat foods, they’re no longer starving, moody, and thinking about their next meal.

Proper nourishment literally changes brain metabolism, and when girls are satiated from high fat foods, they're no longer starving, moody and thinking about their next meal. Click To Tweet

Eating well, in the fact, improves your relationship with food because you only crave what makes you feel amazing. You only crave what makes you radiant. You only crave what brings you to life. Your taste buds change. Your brain chemicals change. That’s true food freedom.

Nutrition alone could be the potent fix and provide a new life for someone who has suffered for years. So up your Omega 3 fatty acids and ditch the ultra processed nonsense. Watch how your brain changes. You’ll find yourself more excited, happy, clear, focused, and creative. You’ll see your energy improve. You’ll start to live in color.

No more skinny lattes, skim milk, lean this and lean that, and reduced fat nonsense.

2. Abandon All Social Media Body Image and Beauty Standards

The next thing girls can do to improve mental health is to stop using filters. Stop following the latest body image trend. Stop thinking about getting fillers and injectables just because the Kardashians and Alix Earles of society do.

I have no hate or judgement on Alix Earle, but she did an entire podcast talking about her boob job and how it boosted her confidence.

Millions of girls follow her and idolize her. And for all the parents who give their under 13 year old girls a phone, you think they’re not consuming content like this? Think again.

A message like this can lead any girl astray and opt to get a surgery she might later regret. It’s hard for girls at a young age to discern what to do since their brains are still developing. They have trouble weighing the costs vs. benefits with something like this.

As a result, girls get implants as soon as they become 18-years-old, and then ex-plant them years later because they become ill, physically and mentally. Here are some of the symptoms reported from women with Breast Implant Illness:

Fatigue, anxiety, chronic pain, and exacerbation of endocrine, autonomic, and peripheral nervous system dysfunction.

Some of the world’s most famous models got their implants removed in their 30s and 40s: Natalie Jill, Krystal Hefner, Victoria Beckham, and even Pamela Anderson. They realized their physical and mental health were more important.

Okay, now onto filters.

Filters are the furthest thing from confidence and empowerment. They cause girls to have a distorted, unrealistic image of themselves.

Filters are the furthest thing from confidence and empowerment. They cause girls to have a distorted, unrealistic image of themselves. Click To Tweet

They leave girls wanting to edit more, more, more, and strive for “perfection.” It is never enough, which is a sure fire way to become depressed, anxious and never fully happy.

The truth is, every girl will have blemishes, sun spots, and eventually, wrinkles.

I no longer use filters. I’m also very open about not getting treatments like botox and fillers because they actually cause more anxiety in the end.

For one, these treatments are freaking expensive, which will make any young woman anxious when she has no life savings and racks up credit card debt.

Two, you’re never happy and you keep getting treatments, trying to achieve a “perfect look” or keeping up with your other girlfriends to outdo one another’s photos online.

Three, maybe you’re trying to get the attention of the opposite sex, and you wonder why you’re attracting the wrong guys who only see you for your looks.

Watch my episode on overcoming social media beauty nonsense here:

The saddest thing about all of this is girls filter their faces and get treatments because they think that is what men want.

Not all men, actually.

Young girls need to realize that the right man, and a respectful man, will love you for all of your blemishes no matter what. They will appreciate you without make up, fillers, and filters!

In fact, men didn’t set these extra unrealistic beauty standards…women did, namely the Kylie Jenners of society. Most men prefer natural and for you to be YOU!

Men didn't set these extra unrealistic beauty standards...women did, namely the Kylie Jenners of society. Most men prefer natural and for you to be YOU! Click To Tweet

Casey, my husband, loves me the most when I don’t wear make up, and when I’m in a t-shirt and sweatpants. He’s also thrilled I don’t waste thousands of dollars on fillers and botox, and we can save money for our family.

Life is easy and less stressful because of this. In fact, living simply has been the greatest anti-anxiety medication.

Most importantly, ladies, you will actually attract the right man if you stay far, far away from the Bratz doll look that is splashed across TikTok.

Ladies, you will actually attract the right man if you stay far, far away from the Bratz doll look that is splashed across TikTok. Click To Tweet

A genuine guy will see you for your character, your heart, rather than your looks.

You attract what you put out on online. Choose wisely.

3. Get Out Into the World and Play

Play changes the brain.

Dr. Stuart Brown pioneered this concept and studied it at length. When kids have a childhood that is enriched with play, they build neural connections needed for emotional intelligence, emotional regulation, and problem solving. His book Play is a book of hope and empowerment that every girl needs.

Even when girls become older, play still needs to be a part of their lives for their mental health. So any time a girl is stressed about school, a grade on an exam, or gossip, can we maybe suggest they go out and play, rather than advising therapy right away?

With play, they boost serotonin. With play, they can express themselves. With play, they change their neurons. With play, they can get out of their own heads. With play, they can experience and feel life.

Play could mean going out and playing Man Hunt, aka Hide n Seek, in the dark with friends. Play could mean pick-up soccer with your besties. Play could mean making Taylor Swift friendship bracelets. Play could mean playing dodgeball. Play could mean chasing your dog. Play could mean creating an Etsy account for hand bags. Play could mean doing karaoke with friends.

Play is far from isolating because you have to interact with others in the world. Remember, isolation is one of the biggest causes of depression.

So put away the phone and play, and watch your anxiety ease.

What to Do

This article was not meant to be medical advice, but rather, a new perspective to consider surrounding the mental health conversation.

Is mainstream advice helping or hurting girls? People shout girls need more resources and groups, but how come no one is shouting girls need better nourishment, more connection, less social media and more play? These should be recommended just as much, if not more.

Of course, it’s your health, so what you do is up to you.

But just know there are many alternatives to improving your mental health that you may find get you not only quicker results, but lasting results and fulfillment for a lifetime.

Go against the mainstream and see what happens.

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14




Emergency Resources and Hotlines:

**Disclaimer: this article was not meant for medical advice, but only for resources and alternatives for young girls to improve brain health and function. These resources are meant for girls (and parents of girls) to research, then make an informed decision.

For anyone who is really struggling and having suicidal thoughts, then get off of social media and please call or text the 24/7 suicide hotline: 988



Ge L, Yap CW, Ong R, Heng BH. Social isolation, loneliness and their relationships with depressive symptoms: A population-based study. PLoS One. 2017;12(8):e0182145. Published 2017 Aug 23. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0182145
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