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Greeting our future leaders on World Teen Mental Wellness Day



Praneeta Mahajan
Hamilton, March 2, 2023

March 2 is World Teen Mental Wellness Day. It is a day that aims to raise awareness about the mental health issues that teenagers deal with. This Day is about making efforts to educate everyone and destigmatise something that is becoming increasingly common.

As defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO), mental health is “a state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and can make a contribution to his or her community.”

The World for our teens

Mental health struggles are unfortunately common in teens, making up 16% of diseases and injuries in people aged 10 to 19. Mental health issues start from around 14 years of age and often go undiagnosed and untreated. Suicide and depression are some of the leading causes of death among teens, and can even lead to other struggles such as substance abuse in later years.

People often fail to understand what teenagers go through, and the stigma associated with mental illness can make teens reluctant to ask for help. This day encourages open conversation and awareness to help teens around the world.

Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health disorders affecting youth today. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately one in five youth between the ages of 13 and 18 will experience a mental health disorder, with anxiety and depression being the most prevalent.

According to the World Health Organisation, depression is the leading cause of disability among young people worldwide, while anxiety disorders affect approximately one in eight children and adolescents.

The Causes

The causes of anxiety and depression in youth can vary, but some of the most common factors include academic stress, social pressures, trauma, and genetic predisposition. The Covid pandemic also exacerbated mental health issues among youth, with the disruption of routines and social isolation leading to increased rates of anxiety and depression.

The causes of anxiety and depression in youth are complex and can vary from genetic predisposition to environmental and social factors. Factors such as academic pressure, social media, and family dynamics can all contribute to the development of these mental health disorders.

Dr Jyoti Kapoor, a psychiatrist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, believes that the increasing prevalence of anxiety and depression among young people is due to a combination of social and environmental factors. She said, “Young people today face a lot of academic and social pressure. The constant pressure to perform, along with the influence of social media and technology, can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression.”

The symptoms of anxiety and depression in youth can manifest in different ways, including changes in mood, behaviour, and physical symptoms such as headaches or stomach aches. These symptoms can be challenging to identify, and many young people may not recognise that they are experiencing a mental health disorder.

According to Dr Kapoor, early identification and intervention are crucial in managing anxiety and depression in youth. She states, “It is essential to identify the signs of anxiety and depression early on and seek professional help. Early intervention can help prevent the development of more severe mental health disorders and improve outcomes for young people.”

What can be done

Treatment options for anxiety and depression in youth include psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy, can help young people learn coping strategies and manage their symptoms.

Dr David Anderson, a clinical psychologist and senior director of the Child Mind Institute, believes that parents and caregivers play a critical role in supporting youth with anxiety and depression. He states, “It is important for parents to create a supportive and non-judgmental environment for their child. This can involve encouraging open communication, setting realistic expectations, and providing reassurance and positive reinforcement.”

Manage your Mind

There are various steps that youth can take themselves to manage their anxiety and depression. These may include practising self-care activities such as exercise, meditation, and spending time in nature, as well as seeking out social support from friends and family.

Dr Shyam Bhat, a psychiatrist and founder of Mind fit, believes that building resilience in young people is crucial in preventing anxiety and depression. He states, “Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity. By building resilience, young people can learn to manage stress and overcome challenges, which can prevent the development of mental health disorders.”

Building resilience in young people can be achieved through various means, including social support, mindfulness, and physical activity. Dr Bhat recommends regular exercise as a way to improve mental health and build resilience. He states, “Regular exercise has been shown to improve mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. It is also a great way to build resilience and manage stress.”

It is important to remember that mental health is just as important as physical health. By prioritising mental health and seeking professional help when needed, we can improve outcomes for young people and help them live happy, healthy lives.

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Hamilton.

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