Adolescence is a tumultuous time

Adolescence is a tumultuous time

Bengaluru: Students before attending a class after the authorities allowed schools to re-open for VIth to VIIIth classes, in Bengaluru, Monday, Sept. 6, 2021. (PTI Photo)(PTI09_06_2021_000096A)

An alarming 70% of adults facing mental illness notice symptoms beginning in their childhood and adolescence. Irrespective of what age an individual is, it is imperative that one must take care of one’s mental health. Until an individual is aware of the concept of mental health, they will not be able to recognise if their mental health is being affected or not. 

Mental health conditions generally show up during adolescence. According to the World Health Organization, mental health conditions can start as young as 14 years of age. However, most of these cases go undetected and untreated as there is little or no awareness about mental health.

Psychologists believe that neglecting mental health at a young age can have severe impact not just on the physiological health of children but may also lower their level of concentration, badly impacting their productivity. Mental health illness can be a major contributor in giving rise to physiological diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and cancer.

Increasing awareness about mental health on social media has allowed students to be more active and informed. They are of the view that incorporating mental health workshops in school can be a more accessible way of dealing with the situation. 

Furthermore, there is an increasing view of affirmation for mental health training of teachers as well. Many teachers know that students struggle with their mental health. However, they say that they don’t have the requisite knowledge to deal with such situations themselves. This is the reason why schools need to create awareness about mental health to the students. 

Confluence of factors

Primarily during the onset of adolescence period, mental health problems start showing up. An adolescent is faced with multiple physical, emotional and social changes. 

This century has also witnessed an escalation in competition. Ranging from academia to co-curricular and extra-curricular, students are under extreme pressure to perform well. The intensified emphasis to score good marks or attain good ranks is exacerbating the mental health illness. Striving to replicate someone else or inferiority complex are extremely pervasive during adolescence. Most times, parents ignore such indications or cannot discern them. Therefore, without the students learning about the symptoms of mental health and the red flags, they would not be able to discern if at all they are facing any such issue. 

Also adding to pressure is the digital age. Due to growing demands to act and be certain in today’s world to be acceptable, children are under a lot of stress and face anxiety. Issues such as body dysmorphia, anxiety, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, substance abuse, personality disorders, mood disorders are becoming pervasive. There is a tendency amongst the youth to seek validation through social media and in case that this need is not satisfied, the person is more likely to develop anxiety or depression.

That is why it is imperative that children are taught how to protect themselves by appreciating their worth. This can be done by conducting workshops on mental health in schools.

(The writer is the principal of a school in New Delhi)

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