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Young people & mental health in a changing world

October 9, 2018
By Z. K

When we come down with a cold, most of us don’t hesitate to pop a pill or visit the doctor.....

mental health

When we come down with a cold, most of us don’t hesitate to pop a pill or visit the doctor. But if we can’t seem to shake our endless worries or that nagging sense of hopelessness, we plug along as though nothing is wrong. It is common practice to treat cold or flu symptoms. But what about mental illness, do people treat it like their physical health and seek out treatment? Unfortunately, the answer is No. Do you know that mental health issues affect about 80% of people in one way or another.

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Chances are you know someone who is or has dealt with mental illness and recovery, or know of someone who is going through the process of dealing with some sort of anxiety, depression, addiction or eating disorder.

Approximately 20 per cent of the world’s youth have mental disorders or problems and about half of them develop disorders before the age of 14 (World Health Organization). Mental disorders and addiction contribute to many suicides around the world each day. 800,000 people commit suicide each year and it’s the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds (WHO). This is a massive scale and something that should be widely addressed when it comes to awareness and treatment.

Why mental health is important

Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. Mental illness needs to be taken more seriously. First of all, it needs to be better integrated into the public health agenda and within primary care.

Better physical health: One reason to take care of your mental health is because it leads to better physical health. Your body performs best when you’re in good physical health. Good mental health means you’re able to cope with daily stresses and accomplish personal goals.

Improved productivity: The World Health Organization reports that an estimated 200 million work days are lost each year due to depression alone, and five out of the 10 leading causes of disability worldwide are mental health problems. According to research, people who struggle with anxiety and depression are more likely to take sick leave repeatedly and for long periods of time. On the other hand people with stable minds have demonstrated to be better workers.

Enjoy more: Just as physical fitness helps our bodies to stay strong, mental fitness helps us to achieve and sustain a state of good mental health. When we are mentally healthy, we enjoy our life and environment, and the people in it. We can be creative, learn, try new things, and take risks. We are better able to cope with difficult times in our personal and professional lives. We feel the sadness and anger that can come with the death of a loved one, a job loss or relationship problems and other difficult events, but in time, we are able to get on with and enjoy our lives once again.

Eat Right: A new study by the UK’s Mental Health Foundation suggests that poor diet has played a role in the significant increase in mental health problems over the past 50 years. Our diet also supplies the vitamins which our bodies cannot create, and which we need to help speed up the chemical processes that we need for survival and brain function. Vitamin deficiencies sometimes manifest themselves as depression and can cause mood swings, anxiety and agitation, as well as a host of physical problems.

A good diet is often the first thing to go when we’re feeling stressed. Making a meal instead of buying one ready-made may seem like a challenge, but it will be probably cheaper and certainly better for you and the simple action of doing something good for yourself can soothe stressful feelings.

World Mental Health Day:

World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health. World Mental Health Day was observed for the first time on 10 October, 1992. It was started as an annual activity of the World Federation for Mental Health by the then Deputy Secretary General Richard Hunter. The Day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.

Young people and mental health in a changing world...

The World Federation for Mental Health is focusing the 2018 WMHDAY campaign on Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World. Addressing youth mental health issues is one of the most important challenges facing our society today. According to the World Health Organization, mental disorders are the single most common cause of disability in young people. If left untreated, mental disorders can impede all aspects of health, including emotional well-being and social development, leaving young people feeling socially isolated, stigmatized, and unable to optimize their social, vocational, and interpersonal contributions to society. Addressing mental health problems early in life can lead to decreases in emotional and behavioural problems. It can also lead to improvements in social and behavioral adjustment, learning outcomes, and school performance.

In this regard investment by governments and the involvement of the social, health and education sectors in comprehensive, integrated, evidence-based programmes for the mental health of young people is essential. This investment should be linked to programmes to raise awareness among adolescents and young adults of ways to look after their mental health and to help peers, parents and teachers know how to support their friends, children and students.

Fortunately, there is a growing recognition of the importance of helping young people build mental resilience, from the earliest ages, in order to cope with the challenges of today’s world. Evidence is growing that promoting and protecting adolescent health brings benefits not just to adolescents’ health, both in the short- and the long-term, but also to economies and society, with healthy young adults able to make greater contributions to the workforce, their families and communities and society as a whole.