Young Teen and Adolescent Mental Health Concerns
An important and complicated issue that has an impact on a sizeable section of the population is young teen and adolescent mental health. Young people frequently face mental health issues during adolescence because it is a time of fast physical, emotional, and social change.
Teenagers and adolescents are more likely than adults to experience mental health disorders. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that approximately 10–20% of children and adolescents experience mental health issues globally like Depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and substance misuse.
Causes: This age group is susceptible to mental health illnesses brought on by a confluence of genetic, biochemical, environmental, and social variables. Young teens and adolescents may experience mental health issues due to a variety of causes, including hormonal changes, brain development, stress, academic expectations, bullying, family problems, trauma, and social media influence.
Warning Signs: It's critical to be aware of the symptoms that young people may be experiencing mental health issues. Persistent sorrow, irritation, withdrawal from social activities, changes in sleep or eating, scholastic deterioration, substance misuse, self-harm, or suicidal thoughts are some examples of these symptoms, which might vary depending on the person and the exact disease. It's essential to take any such indications seriously and get the right kind of professional assistance.
Importance of Early Intervention: Promoting healthy mental health outcomes in young people requires early detection and intervention. Early assistance and care can lessen the severity of mental health issues and enhance general well-being. In order to identify and treat mental health issues in young teens and adolescents, schools, parents, and healthcare professionals or online counsellors plays a vital role.
Access to assistance: It's critical to have access to resources and assistance of mental health professionals. There are many schools which provide teen or adolescent counselling to help young teens to deal with mental health challenges. In addition, these specialists, including therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists, can offer care and support during crisis. There may also be support groups or local organizations accessible in some circumstances. When children need it, it's critical for parents and other adults to actively look for the right support.
Prevention and Mental Health Promotion: Promoting young people's mental health and well-being calls for an all-encompassing strategy. This entails building good connections, educating people about mental health, imparting coping mechanisms, and encouraging self-care behaviours. It can also be helpful to promote open communication, lessen the stigma associated with mental illness, and teach resilience.
Taking care of the needs of young people with mental health concerns is essential. Adolescents' mental health depends on avoiding institutionalization and over-medicalization, giving non-pharmacological methods priority, and protecting children's rights. The Declaration of the Rights of the Child and other human rights documents. The formative years of adolescence are critical for the formation of social and emotional behaviors vital to mental health. Developing coping, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills, as well as learning to control emotions, are some of them. Others include getting enough sleep, working out frequently, and learning to cope. Environments that are safe and encouraging are crucial in the home, in school, and in the larger community.
Many things have an impact on mental health. The potential impact on teenagers' mental health increases as they are exposed to additional risk factors. Adolescence can be stressful due to a number of factors, including peer pressure, adversity exposure, and identity exploration. The gap between an adolescent's lived reality and their perceptions or future aspirations can be made worse by media impact and gender stereotypes. Significant other impacts include their familial environment and relationships with their classmates. Risk factors for poor mental health include bullying, harsh parenting, violence (particularly sexual violence), and severe socioeconomic issues.
Due to their living situations, stigma, exclusion or prejudice, or a lack of access to high-quality services and support, certain youth are especially vulnerable to mental health concerns. These include orphans, adolescents with young children, adolescents who are parents themselves, adolescents who live in humanitarian and unstable environments, adolescents with neurological diseases, intellectual disabilities, or other chronic illnesses, and adolescents who are in early or forced marriages.
Some self-care tips specifically for young teens and adolescents.
- Create a timetable: Stability and structure, both of which are essential for maintaining mental health, can be provided by a regular schedule. Establish consistent eating, sleeping, and study schedules to promote balance and regularity in your daily life.
- Engage in any sports activities: Exercise has beneficial effects on both your physical and mental health. Find something you enjoy doing, such as dance, cycling, or athletics, and try to do it frequently. Exercise causes the release of endorphins, which improve mood and reduce stress
- Engage in relaxation and mindfulness exercises: To reduce stress and improve focus, incorporate mindfulness exercises into your everyday routine. Try yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises to relax and become more aware of yourself.
- Establish Positive and Supportive Relationships: Surround yourself with relationships that are constructive and encouraging. Spend time with supportive and encouraging friends, family, and mentors. Take part in activities that promote interpersonal relationships and enable direct and honest conversation.
- Limit Your Screen Time: Although technology can be useful, too much screen time, particularly on social media, can have a negative influence on your mental health. Establish screen time limits and take pauses from technology to focus on other things and promote a healthy balance.
- Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation. Global Health Data Exchange (GHDx), (https://vizhub.healthdata.org/gbd-results/, accessed 14 May 2022).
- Mental Health Atlas 2020. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2021
- Charlson, F., van Ommeren, M., Flaxman, A., Cornett, J., Whiteford, H., & Saxena, S. New WHO prevalence estimates of mental disorders in conflict settings: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet. 2019;394,240–248.