YOUTH MENTAL HEALTHIvana
Life is a journey and each moment is a new experience for us. These moments can be cheerful sometimes, yet sometimes we might have difficulties to handle, but it is totally okay, we are made of emotions. Since birth, we discover emotions. All the time we grow up, we begin to define them. Especially in adolescence, we go through many emotions and feelings.
Adolescence is a memorable period in which we receive a lot of changes, both physically and mentally. Our characteristic properties are formed during this period, and we tend to build interpersonal and social relationships. In addition to that, we tend to create emotional relationships. These relationships also might be an image of separation from the family and heading forward to become an independent individual.
Adolescence is an amazing period of life. However, it is also a tempestuous period. It does not mean that each adolescent has to experience it likewise. Some overpass it quite while others experience it louder. As well as our character, we also recognise our identity. We prepare ourselves for the future, and we take decisions in terms of profession and career, such as the professions we would choose. This decision period would also clarify our future. In other words, it appoints the school you would study at. All these levels give us a task of responsibility. Except for the decisions about professional life, we also develop moral and ethical understanding. We try to find what our values are in life. From this aspect, we tend to incur responsibilities to become a part of society because we need to prove ourselves.
On the other hand, adolescence is a crucial period for developing social and emotional habits that are important for mental well-being. It is significant to be supported by a social environment and family during this time. As well as keeping our physical health good, we should consider our mental health. Especially during this period, multiple factors may affect our mental health. Such as;
- Increased stress, fear, and anxiety.
- Parental depression.
- Negative family environment (may include parental substance abuse)
- Child mistreatment or abuse by parents.
- Family conflict.
- Loss of school, sport, church, community routine.
- Loss of supportive relationships with friends, extended family members, mentors.
The most common mental issues in adolescents are anxiety, mood, attention, and behavior disorders. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in young people aged 15–24 years (1). While we deal with this problems, we also develop a mechanism to cope with them. We develop coping, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills; and learning to manage emotions. During this period it would be helpful to receive a professional help or talk to the parents. It is crucial to define the cause, and take precaucios to prevent it as quicker as it possible. If there is no access to a professional help or if you think you cannot create a health communication or receiving a parental support, there are always associations, school counselors and call center for asking for support.
According to the data of UNICEF, In 2019, it was estimated that one in seven adolescents experience mental disorders. This amounts to an estimated 166 million adolescents (89 million boys and 77 million girls) boys and girls globally. (2)
How can we define and how can we cope with it?
Firstly, it is crucial to define the emotion and understand what causes it. If not, ask for support. Report it to the parents, teachers or school counsellor, if being exposed to sexual abuse, cyber/bullying, peer victimisation, violence etc.
Secondly, If you are having an emotional rollercoaster, you might try one of those;
Write down your thoughts: Writing might be helpful for self-reflection.
Take a walk in nature: sometimes being alone and shutting down all the voices around might give you a clear idea. However, It does not mean that you should not take advice from others. It just helps you to pull yourself back and observe your thoughts.
Mandala: Drawing or colouring a mandala can help you to focus better and increase observation of your thoughts.
Spending time with friends: Sharing is caring! You can always talk to your friends and get a different point of view.
Meditation: As well as a mandala, meditation can help you to focus and listen to your inner voice. Also, it can keep you at the moment. So you would not have to run after your thoughts. You can just observe them.
Reading: Reading can give you different points of view. As you expand your knowledge, you can also find something in common with the main character in the book.
Social media detox: When used properly, social media can be a very useful tool. However, it might affect our mental health. Sometimes it would be better to just turn it off and relax.
Exercise: Doing exercise regularly has a lot of benefits. It helps you to gain your self-confidence, also helps you to focus and makes you a more disciplined person. A healthy mind needs a healthy body!
In conclusion, having literacy in defining emotions is crucial. Also, knowing that negative emotions are as normal as positive emotions. The more you suppress your feelings, the more you will burst out. Define your emotions to prevent possible mental issues. Especially during adolescence, when we are receiving a lot of emotions and experiencing them might not always be easy for everyone to handle alone. Do not hesitate to ask for help. You are not alone in this journey.
(1) Liu L, Villavicencio F, Yeung D et al. National, regional, and global causes of mortality in 5-19-year-olds from 2000 to 2019: a systematic analysis. Lancet Glob Health 2022;10:e337-47.
Writer: Erkin Duman