Mental Health in Adolescence
Mental Health equals to mental well-being of an individual. It is all about one's thoughts, feelings and emotions; their ability to solve problems and overcome challenges, difficulties on daily basis in their lives; their social relationships, connections and understanding of the world around them.
As physical health of an individual has various levels, ranging from excellent health condition to very good to good to average to poor. Similar is the case with mental health.
As per World Health Organization (WHO), Mental Health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.
In recent past, so many incidents have taken place where successful people have committed suicide, taken that extreme step because they were not able to cope up with stresses, challenges of life and suffered from depression - a mental illness.
In mental illnesses, especially, depression, there are signs and symptoms which may be common for diagnosing purposes but it's still like, 'One size does not fit all'. It comes across in different ways for each individual who is suffering from it.
People, children suffering from depression may not seem to be ill from outside but they are dying every second from inside. They do not have any self-worth. For them, they are of no use to anybody around, they have the belief that they are worthless, not loved or liked by anyone and are failure. Every time they have this feeling of nothingness, have no emotions whatsoever good or bad, everything inside them is hollow. They fail to find a reason to live and thus may even attempt to commit suicide.
Now let us understand Adolescence (10-19 years). These are the most happening, exciting, adventurous, unique and formative years for these young adults. At the same time, these are also the most vulnerable years for adolescents with reference to mental health development and problems.
Adolescence is the highly crucial period for these children to understand about emotional, social and mental well-being and how to protect themselves from the unfortunate experiences and risk factors, while thinking rationally. Mental health conditions account for 16% of the global burden of disease and injury in people aged 10 - 19 years.
As adults, parents and educators it is our duty and responsibility to start investing in these young adults mental health.
How to do that?
• Listen to them not just hear.
• Listen unconditionally, without judging, without labeling and without shaming them.
• Be a friend to them but do not forget that you are a parent or an educator first.
To do all these above mentioned things, you need to connect with them first at emotional level. This will help them build trust in you. Once the bridge called trust is build, they (adolescents) will come to you whenever they need to, without any hesitation.
Always remember, "To be loving, caring and kind is more important than to be right and disciplinarian. Most of the times, what children need is not an accomplished mind that educates but an understanding person who listens".
Alongside what is equally important is to teach these adolescents how to take care of their own mental health. This is of utmost importance, because as they grow and move out of the safe zone and be on their own, they would need this life-skill of being their own therapist.
It's an age where they love risk-taking behavior and get that kick because of the adrenaline rush, which might seem okay at that time, but it impacts their mental health and well-being in future. A timely and professional intervention goes a long way in preventing long term damage to the mental health of adolescents. It's high time and need of the hour to break the stigma of approaching or going to a psychologist, counselor or mental health expert when required.