Stunning New Facts about Mental Health Conditions among Teenagers from WHO — World Health Organization Oct.23. 2019
In an age of selfies — with filters to adjust our reality to make us look better — and an over fascination with image, fame and being ‘seen’, how do we ensure that we nurture the growth of character in our children? Maggie Dent
I don’t know about you, but these facts stunned me as a teacher, researcher and author of a teen girl’s e-book about struggles and regrets on Social Media. It is the newest research about mental health problems with adolescents done by the World HealthOrganization in Oct. 23, 2019.
Here are the 6 key findings:
- One in six people are aged 10–19 years.
- Mental health conditions account for 16% of the global burden of disease and injury in people aged 10–19 years.
- Half of all mental health conditions start by 14 years of age but most cases are undetected and untreated.
- Globally, depression is one of the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents.
- Suicide is the third leading cause of death in 15–19-year-olds.
- The consequences of not addressing adolescent mental health conditions extend to adulthood, impairing both physical and mental health and limiting opportunities to lead fulfilling lives as adults.
Nearly 90% of the world’s adolescents live in low or middle-income countries. I can’t say how teenagers in North America (Canada and US) may relate to others around the world but there are more similarities than differences, in my opinion, because teenagers share a common transition or threshold. If any of these words ring true, then the bell tolls for our country, too, and for teenagers you may know.
All adolescents share a unique and formative time. Their physical and psychological well-being must be protected against adverse experiences and risk factors that may impact their potential to thrive with essential physical and mental health into adulthood.
Summary of main points or may read the entire article.
Mental health determinants
- develop and maintain social and emotional habits important for mental well-being: healthy sleep, regular exercise, problem solving, interpersonal skills, managing emotions, respecting supportive environments.
- minimize risk factors: greater autonomy, peer pressure, sexual identity, socioeconomic problems and quality of home life.
- increased access to technology and media influence with hands-on disparity between lived reality and perceptions for the future.
- more vulnerable to social exclusion, discrimination, readiness to seek help, educational difficulties, risk-taking behaviors, physical ill-health and human rights violations.
- common disorders are depression, anxiety, irritability, frustration or anger, unexpected mood changes or outbursts; schoolwork affected; possible physical symptoms such as stomach ache, headache or nausea.
- social withdrawal linked to isolation and loneliness, even suicide.
Childhood behavioral disorders
- include attention deficit hyperactivity, difficulty paying attention, excessive or destructive activity and acting without regards to consequences; can affect education or result in criminal behavior.
- affect females more commonly than males: restricting calories, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder, often co-exist with depression, anxiety and/or substance misuse.
Suicide and self-harm
- third leading cause of death in older adolescents (15–19 years). Risk factors include harmful use of alcohol, abuse in childhood, stigma against help-seeking, limited access to care.
- need more communication
- substance abuse, episodic drinking. use of tobacco and cannabis, sexual risks, interpersonal violence impacts on adolescent’s mental and physical well-being.
Promotion and prevention
- interventions and programs to help regulate emotions, provide alternatives to risk- taking behaviors, build self -esteem and confidence, promote supportive social environments and networks
- requires digital media education, health or social care settings, schools or the community
Early detection and treatment
- crucial to address the needs of adolescents with defined mental health conditions
- avoid institutionalization and over-medicalization, prioritize non-pharmacological approaches, respect the rights of children and adolescents
People, we can do better than this for our next generation, can’t we?
I am nervous when I see the words “teen suicide” but it happens like a 14 year old girl hanging herself from her family’s apple tree because of a boyfriend’s snub. Suicide is the leading killer in young Australians, as one in four adolescents suffer from depressive symptoms and many others battle anxiety. Maggie Flett
Who else wonders to what degree the digital media contributes to teenagers’ problems, their self-identity, social compass and personal morality? What are the long-term consequences of hours spend watching cellphones?
I’m not a trained psychologist, not even a parent, but I’d be scratching the wall if I had to watch my child grow up before his or her time with virtual strangers and alien attitudes from another dimension of Selfies.
So why is this so upsetting for this teacher?
Because the educational process has also been overthrown. Learning process involves going from point A ( know little) to Point B (know a lot). However, teenage girls have been thrown into the middle of a social media circus with little training or understanding of media literacy or psychology. Their adolescent brain development for all the reasons mentioned by WHO are trying to find a WHY and HOW place to belong in a hyper saturated medium.
Young girls will not shout from the rooftops, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore” because they don’t know their teenage innocence and self-discovery have been sabotaged and manipulated. They react to stimuli and response … it’s the only circus in town.
They need a strong popular advocate with a media empire to say enough is enough. The Kardashians won’t do it because their brand is to hyperventilate appearances and how to post butt-selfies (belfies).
Oprah Winfrey may help if she feels there is a solution with the #metoo movement on behalf of teen girls.
So, am I wrong to feel so strongly about teenagers, especially teen girls, and social media impositions and influencers?
How do you feel about our teenage digital culture…what are your teen experiences or concerns…how do you deal with mental problems as such? What changes would you like to see?
Questions and comments are always important … let’s talk about our responsibilities.
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NOTE: WHO works on strategies, programs and tools to assist governments in responding to the health needs of adolescents. Check out some of their key resources.
PS: Check out e-book called Teen Girl Faces Time in the Sand … Social Media Struggles, Regrets and Survival with Superpower Tool