A mentor is a person who uses his or her life experience to voluntarily guide, support and encourage another individual. Sometimes, a mentor relationship develops naturally—you don’t even realize that’s what’s happening. Other times, people seek out mentors in a more proactive way. People of all ages can benefit from having a mentor. Many adults find one to help with their career. But young people especially have a lot to gain from this type of bond.
Mentors are not meant to replace parents, guardians or teachers. They also don’t play the role of disciplinarians or decision makers. Instead, they become part of a team of caring grownups for that young person. By encouraging positive choices, promoting high self-esteem, supporting academic achievement, and introducing new ideas, mentors help teens develop into healthy, happy adults.
Just because someone is older, shares the same hobbies, or is interested in a young person doesn’t automatically make them a good mentor. Look for these qualities:
There’s a wide range of programs that specialize in matching young people with mentors, such as:
Mentors can also often be found by just looking around at the adults who already have an influence in a young person’s life, for example:
If you or someone you know is living with a mental health issue or an addiction, take the first step toward getting help.
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