Mental Health: Why Youth Is Facing Challenges – Causes, Warning Signs And Prevention | Health News

While there is no universally agreed international definition of the youth age group, the United Nations – for statistical purposes – defines ‘youth’ as those persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years. While it’s often touted as the best days of our lives, this period of youth is a sensitive time where a person’s experiences have a lasting impact on their growth and success. Rashmi Bagri, Psychologist and Outreach Associate, Mpower, Aditya Birla Education Trust, shares, “About half of all mental health disorders in adulthood start by age 14, but most cases are undetected and untreated. Mental illness can have harmful effects on youth’s overall health.” In this article, Bagri explores the mental health challenges faced by today’s youth, the causes, and what we can do to prevent them.

Key Mental Health Issues In Youngsters

Rashmi Bagri says that sound mental health can help youngsters to:

· Make productive decisions for ourselves

· Make friends and engage with others around them

· Work and earn a living

“Mental health issues affect their self-confidence and limit their social communication, academic achievement, economic potential and also engagement with the wider community. Some of the most common disorders among youth are anxiety, attention issues, depression and other mood disorders, psychosis and eating disorders,” shares Bagri.

Mental Health Disorders: Risk Factors

Multiple factors affect mental health. “The more risk factors youths are facing, the greater the likelihood of impact on their mental health. Biology, genetics, and life events are linked to a youth’s chances of developing mental health disorder,” shares Bagri. She goes on to explain each risk factor in detail:

Genetics: Some youth are hereditarily more susceptible to mental disorders than others due to their family’s history of mental illness.

Brain Chemistry: Neurotransmitters are naturally occurring brain chemicals that carry signals to other parts of your brain and body. When the neural networks involving these chemicals are impaired, the function of nerve receptors and nerve systems change, leading to depression and other emotional disorders.

Life Experiences: Bari says life experiences can also affect.

· Stressful life situations, such as financial problems, a loved one’s death or a divorce.

· A long-lasting medical condition, such as diabetes.

· Brain damage as a result of a serious injury, such as a violent blow to the head 

· Traumatic experiences, such as natural disasters, stigma, discrimination or exclusion, bullying 

· Excessive use of alcohol, tobacco or drugs

· A childhood history of abuse or neglect

· A small number of friends to share feelings or few healthy relationships

· Increased time spent on social media

Other factors: Poor nutrition and exposure to toxins, such as lead, may play a role in mental illnesses.

Also Read: Exclusive – Psychologist Shares 10 Tips For Sound Mental Health

Signs Of Mental Health Issues

“Signs of mental illness manifested can vary from person to person, depending on the disorder, circumstances and other factors. Sometimes symptoms of a mental health disorder appear as frequent physical problems, such as gastrointestinal pain, back pain, headaches, or other unexplained aches and pains,” shares Bagri. Some signs to watch out for, she says, include:

1. Increase in avoidance of talking to friends and family

2. Having frequent outbursts of anger

3. Sudden change in sleeping or eating habits

4. Rebellious behaviour

5. Excessive drinking/smoking/doing drugs

6. Not able to enjoy things as before

7. Constantly worrying

8. Undergoing many mood fluctuations

9. Not bathing for days/not able to take care of daily activities

10. Preoccupied with own weight

11. Lacking energy or motivation

12. Often indulging in risky behaviours

13. Feeling sad or very low

How To Prevent Mental Health Problems

“There is no one simple solution to this complicated problem, prevention will need to depend on a combination of interventions that take into consideration individual needs and circumstances,” says Bagri. She adds, “The goal of interventions to prevent mental health disorders is to strengthen youth’s capacity to manage emotions, build resilience for managing difficult situations and adversity, and promote supportive social environments and social connections.” The psychologist says that these plans require a multi-level approach with various platforms – for example, schools, colleges, workplaces, or the community – and varied strategies to reach the most vulnerable youth.

Mental Health Issues: Regular Screening A Must

It is recommended to do anxiety and depression screenings regularly for youth till 18 years of age at the nearest primary care centre, school/college counsellor or mental health professional, says Bagri.

Preventing Mental Health Issues: What Parents And Society Can Do

Bagri suggests what parents can do to identify concerns and support well-being:

· Communicate with your child regarding your observed concerns in a brief and positive manner 

· Listen to their response without interrupting or questioning them for a few minutes 

· Assure your child that you will sort out difficult issues together

Life Skills Training: Life skills education could be included in school curriculum that emphasises important mental wellbeing skills such as self-confidence and resilience to social pressures, says Bagri.

Mental Health First Aid Training: Teachers, employers, churches, paediatricians and hospitals should be trained to identify youth mental health illnesses, and provide a listening ear to youth who are often hesitant about sharing their mental health problems, says Bagri.

Seek Expert’s Help: Make appointments with trained professionals to discuss your concerns and find ways you can manage your daily life.

Focus On Self-Care

For those who do not have access to specialists’ care, Bagri says that focusing on reducing stress, increasing sleep, and proper nutrition have been shown to help protect our mental health from worsening further. She adds a word of caution: “Most mental illnesses don’t get better on their own, and if untreated, a mental illness may get worse over time and cause serious problems such as family conflicts, unemployment, addiction, self-harm and harm to others.”

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