Being a teenager in today’s age comes with a lot of responsibilities and expectations from the surrounding. When one is at the age where they are supposed to learn values, inculcate healthy behaviour and have fun, they are all supressed under the societal and parental expectations. The root causes of kids facing mental health issues include families, the society they live in, and school/college lives.
It is often difficult for most of the parents to accept that their kid might be suffering from mental health issues. They assume having mental health issues is equivalent to a person being psychotic or abnormal. While entering into the teenage, kids encounter a lot of changes both physically and emotionally and tend to become insecure and feel unsafe, while sharing any issues related with own parents mostly out of fear. Some kids deal with it successfully while other cannot and stay stuck in their thoughts. In some cases, these thoughts get so worse that young adults’ see no meaning or purpose in life and end up committing suicide.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), depression is the one of the main reasons of mental illness and disabilities. Mental health issues in teens mostly commence from the age of 14. One might have a serious question as to why teens at such young age become a victim of depression. We many a times wonder the reason behind teens committing suicide. WHO also stated that suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens between 15-20 years of age.
Family plays a major role in child’s overall growth. Parents mostly expect their kids to be super active and succeed in whatever they do and to have a good academic record. This creates a lot of pressure on young minds at a very small age. Comforting children and allowing them to know that it is okay to not be the best always is extremely important. However, in several cases parents mostly react aggressively trying to make their child run in the rat-race. This leads to kids fearing their own parents and thus they refrain from sharing or talking about issues they encounter. A family having a supportive environment helps the child in having a healthy mental state, which will eventually help build a good life for themselves.
The lockdown caused due to the Covid-19 pandemic introduced majority of people to mental health issues and many faced signs of depression and anxiety during those difficult months. Everyone, especially teens with a specific lifestyle, a routine in the outside world had a sudden paused. Staying in, not being able to attend colleges physically, not being able to meet their friends started to make feel extremely lonely and unproductive. Adapting to the virtual life was indeed difficult and for teens already dealing with mental health issues became a victim of depression.
Teenage is a very delicate period for growing and it is important to try and maintain emotional and social habits for a good mental well-being. These habits include proper sleep patterns, exercising regularly, developing the coping skill, managing emotions, and others. As mentioned above, having a supportive environment at family and at school is very important. According to WHO, 10-20% teens globally face mental health conditions yet are underdiagnosed or untreated because majority of them are unaware of what mental health issues are.
There are various factors that lead to mental health problems. These factors include wanting to experience more freedom, peer pressure, exploring one’s own sexual identity, increasing use of technology. Social media has become a platform where everyone is judged. The perfection or the fake lives that are displayed on social media affects one’s reality and their desire to achieve their aspirations. It pressurizes the teens or more like scares them from the thought of not being able to fit in the normal world.
Factors also include an individual’s life and relations at home and their relationships with their friends too. Experiencing harsh parenting or being a victim of bullying and socio-economic problems are also some of the risks that can lead to mental health issues. Some teens face mental health issues due to the conditions they live in. Facing discrimination, failed access to a quality lifestyle and services, chronic illness, autism disorder, any neurological condition, teen pregnancy, early/forced marriages and others are some other risk factors that can lead to mental health issues.
Emotional disorders are natural during teenage. Teens experience extreme irritability, anger or frustration in addition to depression or anxiety. Due to continuous hormonal changes, there are unexpected mood changes and emotional outburst too. According to WHO, depression is the fourth leading cause of mental illness and disability among teens of ages 15-19. Emotional disorders can greatly affect a child’s school life such as the attendance and the schoolwork. Children socially withdraw themselves and get lonely and isolated. In the end, all of this results in suicide.
Eating disorders mostly occur during the adolescence or the young adulthood. Females are more prone to eating disorder than men. Binge eating disorders are characterized by eating behaviours that are harmful such as restricting calories. Eating disorder is also a factor that supports mental health issues and it co-exists with either depression or with anxiety.
Risk taking behaviours such as sexual risk talking or substance use start during teenage. Risk taking behaviour is unhelpful to deal with poor mental health conditions and can severely affect a teen’s mental and physical well-being. Teens make use of cannabis and tobacco and other drugs to escape reality and not to face their fears. Cannabis is a widely used drug among young people.
The use of social media is also a major cause of mental illness in young people. Teens start to compare their lives and are deeply affected by the ‘likes, comments, and shares’ on social media. The need of wanting to be appreciated and liked by everyone on social media affects their emotional well-being. Spending more time on social media than they are supposed to, is resulting is decrease in their self-esteem and un-clarity in their own thoughts and feelings.
How can Mental illness be prevented or treated?
After the sudden demise of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput and depression being assumed as the reason of his death, mental health awareness has taken a jump. The reason for his death was stated as mental illness he had been suffering from in the past months. People tend to have taken precautionary measures and necessary actions in their families to avoid mental illness. Several mental health campaigns such as Future Generali India Insurance Company’s #HealthInsideOut campaign have been initiated. There are online mental health campaigns available for people who want to share their feelings or just need someone to talk. Mental health preventions aim to strengthen one’s capacity to regulate emotions, choose alternative’s leading to risk taking behaviours, build resilience to deal with difficult and adverse situations and promote supportive social environments.
It is essential to address the needs of teens with defined mental health conditions. Avoiding institutionalization or heavy medications is always better for the one who is affected. Basically, treating a mentally ill person normally and being more communicative and kind towards them it-self helps in a lot of cases. Teens who suffer from mental health issues are mostly those who just need someone to tell them that they have someone who is going to listen to them, understand them and is going to be there with them. Especially someone from the family or close friends.
Teens dealing with mental illness basically feel being a burden on everyone and the depression leads them to self-harm. Self-destruction is the road they choose and eventually end up committing suicide. Mental illness can be treated if diagnosed before it’s too late. Some of the methods involved in the treatment are:
Yoga: Yoga is a form of exercise that focuses on connecting the mind and body through a series of movements and breathing exercises. This helps aligning mind and body and helps in clearing one’s thoughts and is a mood buster.
Meditation: Meditation helps in relieving stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health symptoms. Meditation techniques range from mindfulness-based meditation to guided meditation to simple breathing exercises.
· Nutrition: Diet can affect mental health in many ways. By closely observing their diet, a person can help improve their overall mental health and well-being and alleviate some mental illness symptoms.
· Exercise: Exercise is also a major component of mental health treatment. People suffering from mental health conditions should try any form of exercise for at least 30 minutes every day to reduce stress
· Equine therapy: Equine-assisted psychotherapy, also called equestrian therapy or horse therapy, is a type of experiential mental health treatment that involves a person in therapy interacting with horses. It eases the symptoms of many health conditions such as autism, anxiety and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)