The Good and Bad of New York City Life for Teens

By Jeanette Lorandini

Image of two teen boys in the middle of New York City.For decades, many television shows and movies have given audiences living everywhere a glimpse into city life—specifically big city life in New York City. They capture the glitz and glamor of living in the city that never sleeps and the hustle and bustle of constantly rushing and trying to make dreams come true in the concrete jungle. Clearly, New York City inspires many creators, but is it the best place to raise teens and get them the support they need when they’re facing mental health challenges?

Life in NYC for teens

Living in large, action-packed spaces can uniquely impact the physical, emotional, and mental health of the people who live there. Specifically for the teen and young adult population, city life can create unique difficulties that affect their mental health. On the flip side, larger cities like NYC typically have more mental health care providers and more resources, like public transportation, that teens can access, which makes it easier to seek treatment.

Whether you live in NYC or on Long Island, mental health support for teens is available, and the treatment professionals at Suffolk DBT want to help you get connected.

Support for Manhattan Teens at Suffolk DBT

The teenage years are a stage of life rife with constant changes. It can be beneficial for teens’ well-being to have the support of mental health professionals who understand the psychosocial, cognitive, and emotional climate of being a teen in the NYC environment. At Suffolk DBT in NYC and Long Island, our Manhattan DBT providers know how city life can positively and negatively impact teenagers and we’re prepared to teach them the DBT skills needed to help navigate their lives with ease.

If your teen is struggling with their emotions, risky behaviors, or their relationship with food, dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) might be the answer they need. Searching the internet for ‘teen counseling near me’ can direct you to Suffolk DBT, where they’ll receive the compassion, guidance, and support needed to regulate their emotions and reach their full potential.

Large Cities Can Be Demonstrative of “The Real World”

The teenage years typically involve physical, emotional, mental, behavioral, and social changes. It’s a crucial time for interpersonal and social development. Many significant life events take place in the teen years such as:

  • Self-discovery and identity formation
  • Starting the first job or learning to drive
  • Developing romantic and sexual interests
  • In some cases, experimenting with drugs and alcohol

Many teens are figuring out who and what matters to them at this stage. They’re pursuing new interests while outgrowing some old ones. Teens living in big cities like NYC often encounter these experiences on a larger scale because their neighborhoods are packed with people, opportunities, and interactions that can give them amplified glimpses into what their parents and teachers often call “the real world.”

Manhattan DBT Providers Recognize How Teens’ “Real World” is Evolving

Teenagers often hear the cliché message that the teen years are the best. However, for many teens, no matter where they live, it can be disheartening to hear that such a time of confusion and growing pains is supposed to be the best. Doesn’t it get better than grappling with sudden physical changes that can be embarrassing? Won’t it be better than making destructive or impulsive decisions that can cost one a friendship, a chance to go to college, or something else considered precious?

At Suffolk DBT, our Long Island and Manhattan DBT and CBT providers understand that life can be painful even at a young age. Teens have to face a “real world” filled with unprecedented pressures and dangers, like suiting social media beauty standards, the threat of cyberbullying or having to go viral to be considered popular and likable.

Psychological and emotional shifts are naturally challenging but can be amplified for teens who feel the toll of big-city life. New York parents and teens who do web searches for ‘teen counseling near me’ and are directed to our center will receive the support, grace, patience, and understanding they deserve in this crucial stage. They’ll receive dialectical behavioral therapy that empowers them to recognize the impact of their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors on their mental and emotional state and decision-making. They’ll get DBT skills training and CBT techniques that equip them with practical skills for overcoming stressful situations and triumphing over harmful behaviors and negative thoughts.

The Good: The City Can Be a Teen’s SandboxA teen girl standing on times square looks up at the buildings surrounding her with awe.

When parents say they want to prepare their teens for “the real world,” they often mean the point of life where their teen becomes an independent member of society. Likewise, when teachers say it, they typically mean the world outside the four walls of a classroom. They mean society at large, in which teenagers will be young adults and:

  • Making money for themselves
  • Living outside of their parents’/caretakers’ homes
  • Making moral and ethical decisions that impact themselves and others
  • Engaging in more mature problem-solving
  • Having more complex interpersonal relationships with people who are similar and different from themselves
  • Being held to society’s laws and cultural norms instead of just school rules

City life can effectively prepare teens for such experiences. Big cities often offer more extensive, more varied school systems and job opportunities. This typically gives teenagers more chances to start taking on responsibilities and earning their own money. Likewise, a city like NYC offers teens plenty of recreation and excitement. Multiple museums, parks, and landmarks offer rich history lessons. Sporting events, festivals, theatres, and a thriving local music scene provide entertainment and give teens something to want to be a part of. City teens can use their environment to their advantage and gain confidence in their independence with every new opportunity and challenge they undertake.

Meeting People of Diverse Backgrounds Can Be Beneficial

Major cities like NYC, with so many people, give teens opportunities to encounter new faces every day. Such cities draw in all kinds of people from over the country and worldwide. It can benefit teens to interact with people whose life experiences and cultural backgrounds differ from theirs—people who may make them more open-minded to different perspectives. Such experiences can strengthen how teens connect with people who are similar and different from themselves. They can help teens become more respectful in social interactions. At Suffolk DBT, our Manhattan DBT and CBT providers consider how such interactions can help teens in the long run. Even teens with anxiety can become more confident, experiencing less frequent and less intense anxiety the more they socialize.

The Bad: Living in a Large City Can Be Suffocating for Some

Teen girl interested in DBT treatment looks out over an expansive city. The DBT skills she's learning in teen therapy help her regulate her overwhelming feelings.

Living in a big city can be a two-sided coin. Even with so many career and academic opportunities, the sheer number of residents in major cities can make teens feel like they’re always competing, always rushing to be viable candidates for the best the city has to offer. Teens may begin overachieving in an attempt to stand out from the massive crowd. This can add pressure and stress and be hard to maintain in the long run.

Large, overactive environments can make teens feel like a tiny piece of a massive, endless puzzle. The perceived anonymity among millions of people and the experience of being wordlessly passed by on the street can devastate some teens. An overwhelmed, anxiety-riddled teenage mind can translate this to mean they’re small and insignificant. Add to this the way busy, well-lit environments that can overstimulate their minds and bodies; it’s no wonder teens lack focus and receive poor-quality sleep.

Manhattan DBT Can Provide Relief From City Life

Living in the city isn’t perfect. It’s okay to admit you love living in a big city but sometimes feel like it’s swallowed you whole.

You may begin to notice that it takes so much out of you that you’re constantly experiencing headaches and heartaches, panic attacks, or wishing sunset came as soon as sunrise so that you can say you survived the day. In that case, you may need to pursue a professional’s help and support. There’s courage—not shame—in searching for ‘teen counseling near me’ to find a professional counselor for teenager. Individual and group therapy for teenage depression, anxiety, or other struggles can help your teen work through their specific problems. Likewise, there’s courage in seeking help for mental health worries through a crisis text line or other emergency services available in your area.

At Suffolk DBT, Manhattan DBT and CBT providers work with teens to help them regulate their emotions and adopt more helpful, realistic, and healthier thought patterns. Our therapists help clients understand how their emotions and thoughts connect. Offering nonjudgmental support, they help teens develop reorganization and restructuring methods for situations they find most distressing and sad. With these skills, teens can challenge distressed thinking and think about themselves and their environment in healthier, more logical ways.

Reach out to us today for the compassion and guidance you deserve. In individual and group sessions, you’ll gain a solid understanding of your triggers and emotional reactions, and receive treatment that addresses you as a whole person, not a problem. Your newly fine-tuned skills will empower you to overcome anxiety and intrusive thoughts and not only live in a big city but thrive.

Suffolk DBT proudly provides quality dialectical behavior therapy, a form of cognitive behavioral therapy, at their offices in Manhattan and Long Island, New York and online. Their experienced NYC therapists specialize in serving teens, children, adults, and college students struggling with depression, borderline personality disorder, eating disorders, and self-harm. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skills and treatment can help you or your kids to manage emotions and work through life’s challenges.

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