Being healthy doesn’t mean just being healthy physically and socially, it means being healthy mentally as well.

India is one of the populous countries, and according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), India has over 253 million adolescent population, the largest in the world. As much as it is beneficial for our country, it is a matter of concern that they face extensive mental health issues as compared to any other age group.

Mental Illness

Since the period of adolescence is perceived to be crucial, it becomes imperative that we promote psychological well-being to protect their mental health. Issues of depression, suicide, panic attacks, and other mental health disorders have been prevalent for very long.

However, the global pandemic increased it even more according to what the statistics show. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), during the pandemic, India was the most depressed country as one in every six teenagers aged between 10 to 19 years of age, was suffering from depression. 

Factors Influencing Mental Illness Amongst Adolescents

According to the World Health Organization, mental health disorders start at 14 years of age, on average. However, many of these go unnoticed or untreated, as only 7.5% are reported. WHO states that the prime mental health disorder amongst adolescents is depression, followed by suicide.

Sadly, as stated above, most of these go unnoticed, due to which these disorders extend into their adulthood. Hence, in that case, it becomes essential for one to notice factors that might cause mental illness and to reach a psychiatrist for assistance. 

Presently, one of the major causes of mental illness is the global pandemic caused by Covid 19. Since everyone is confined to the boundaries of home, they feel detached and exhausted, which in turn leave them frustrated and stressed. They miss out on socializing and honing their practical and creative skills as the classes are online. 

Other factors that determine mental illness are peer pressure, academic pressure, exploration of their sexual identity, excess of technology, specifically social media, and many others. As adolescence is a period of transition from childhood to adulthood, they face a majority of changes inside out, which becomes a major reason for mental illness. 

Image shows how mental health affects us

Let’s illustrate with a few examples to understand better. During adolescence, the body of an individual undergoes changes. Hence, an adolescent feels awkward about themselves and looks up to celebrities and models as their “ideals”.

To get the desired body, many of them develop eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating. And if they fail to achieve the desired results, they end up being stressed or depressed. 

Also Read: As Someone Who Grew Up With A Mentally-Ill Person, Here’s Why I Think Mental Health Is Important

Another example can be exploring their sexual identity. Since childhood, it is embedded in our minds that we get attracted to the opposite sex.

Now, if an individual feels attracted to an individual of the same sex, they might start questioning themselves and their sexual behavior. And they won’t be able to express their feelings to their families and peers due to the fear of judgment, which in turn leads to further mental distress.  

Why Adolescents Are More Prone To Mental Illness

We just discussed the factors that determine mental illness in adolescents, which depicts a variety of reasons why adolescents face mental illness. According to Statista (2018), in India, 32.1% of young adults (18-25)  have mental health disorders. 

According to the Indian Journal of Medical Research, the prevalence of mental health disorders in the 13-17 years age group is 7.3 (excluding substance abuse disorders). It was also reported that substance abuse is highest among adolescents. 

However, we saw above that many of these go unnoticed. Likewise, there must have been a lot of responses where they refused to answer.

What Can Be Done  

As the youth is the future of our country, we must pay attention to their mental health needs and reduce mental illness issues. The Indian Journal of Medical Research suggests a public health approach through which we can focus on controlling and reducing mental illness. 

On the other hand, WHO suggests that awareness about mental health and strengths to control one’s emotions, avoiding risky behaviors, and building the mental strength to tackle tough personal and professional situations should be promoted. 

A silhouette showing mental disorders

It further suggests that this can be done through multi-level platforms such as digital media, social media, schools and institutes, and other areas where adolescents actively take part. We must also raise the importance of mental health well-being and bust the taboos and myths attached to mental illness. 

We must be aware of the factors and respond to them as soon as we observe them so that they can be tackled at the earliest. The habit of considering mental illness as “weakness” should be discouraged and we must restrain from judging and labeling the ones facing it. 

If we’ll be aware of the mental health disorders at an early age, then it won’t be extended and adolescents will be able to lead a happy and healthy life. 

Image Sources: Google

Sources: World Health Organization, BMC Psychiatry, India Today, IJMR

Connect with the blogger: Palak Dogra

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