How to Make Goals to Improve Mental Health

Do your children feel depressed but want to feel happier, feel anxious but want to manage anxiety, or feel like they are worthless but want to feel confident? For these and other mental health struggles, goal-setting is often an effective way to improve mental health.

Benefits of Setting Goals:

  • Accomplishing goals gives the brain a boost of dopamine, a “feel good” transmitter. In this way, goal setting can make someone feel happier. This is why many people make to-do lists; they feel happy each time they cross something off their life.
  • Performance is improved as your children are supported, challenged, rewarded, and given feedback in their goal setting.
  • Setting goals give your children valuable experiences and skills, such as resilience, self-esteen, and independence, all of which contribute to healthy mental health.

Goal-Setting Tips:

  • Leave room for change. Not reaching a goal can cause low self-esteem. Let your children know it’s okay for them to reassess and update their goals often and make changes as necessary to help them meet their goals.
  • Make S.M.A.R.T. goals. To avoid goals that are too hard to reach or end up causing more depression and anxiety, teach your children how to make goals that are specific, measurable (not vague), achievable, relevant (they actually want to do it), and time-bound.
  • Find support. Check on their progress. Encourage them to share their goals with others, and praise their effort.

Whether or not your children struggle with their mental health, goal-setting can be a healthy way to improve and grow, and it’s a great way to kick off the new year.

This blog was written by Hope Squad. Hope Squad student members are trained to be aware of their peers and watch for warning signs. They learn to show empathy to their peers, listen without judgment, and reduce stigma regarding help-seeking and mental illness. Hope Squads are now in over 1,200 schools across 35 states and Canada. During the seventeen years since Timpview High School started a Hope Squad, the school has not lost a student to suicide. And as Hope Squad grows, we will continue to spread hope and save more lives. Learn more by visiting