Adolescence and one’s teen years are important periods in one’s life, where we learn about social and behavioral habits and become participating members of society. It is an age of tenderness and susceptibility to heartbreak and resentment.
Many people don’t realize that a teen or adolescent’s mental health is just as important as their physical health. Studies state that almost 20% of the world’s teen population is facing mental health issues and is afflicted with a mental illness. It is imperative now more than ever to discuss the importance of good mental health amongst teens and adolescents.
Stable mental health in Teens and adolescents can help ensure
Attaining positive self-image and ability to experience joy:
Teens and adolescents with poor mental health tend to have a very negative image of themselves in their minds and hold a bleak view of the world. This can deter them from participating in daily activities, socializing with other people, and achieving their goals. Further, teens and adolescents with poor mental health are not able to experience happiness the same way as their mentally healthy peers, and this can cause a detriment on their quality of life. A negative self-image could lead them to believe that they are undeserving of happiness, which could lead to feelings of worthlessness and, in serious cases, cause suicidal tendencies.
Ability to deal with challenges and adverse situations:
Often, as adults, we face difficulty in dealing with situations that don’t go our way. Thus, it’s only natural for teens and adolescents, who have yet to form their opinion of the world and familiarize themselves with its workings, to feel frustrated and annoyed when faced with challenges or adverse situations in life. A good mental health in teens and adolescents enables them to take such situations in their stride and learn from them, while unstable mental health can render them incapable of dealing with such situations. Teens and adolescents should be prepared to undertake new challenges in life and accept their circumstances where required. A stable mental temperament is very important to build a foundation for the same.
Research and studies show that a significant percentage of teens and adolescents with untreated mental illness or unstable mental health face trouble with mental health even in their adulthood. It is for this reason that ensuring that your teen or adolescent gets the best care possible if they’re having mental health issues is of utmost importance. Unfortunately, in India, many traditional households are averse to the idea of therapy or external help and this can be even more harmful to the child’s mental health.
Ability to study and learn
Many parents will agree that the ability to learn and study is important for the personal and professional development of the child. However, studying or learning can be especially difficult for teens with poor mental health. Teens and adolescents face an influx of intense emotions, and when combined with the distractions of school life and their sensitive temperament towards conflict, it can lead to an inability to study and learn. Further, in India, a number of teens and adolescents face anxiety related to exams and college entrances. It is important to reassure and help teens going through a difficult time with their mental health. Parental intervention at the right time and in the appropriate manner can enable teens to picture life as larger than school and grades, and allow them to pursue studies and learning with a fresh perspective.
Healthy levels of physical activity
Much like studying and learning, physical activity is required for a healthy and holistic lifestyle. Exercise has long since been associated with good physical and mental health. In India, experts have time and again acknowledged the correlation between daily exercise and psychopathology. A poor mental health can deter teens or adolescents from doing physical activity. Negligible or low physical activity can further aggravate mental health issues. It is for this reason that parents should consider mental health issues in teens of utmost importance, otherwise, the vicious cycle of harm causing harm will never stop.
Healthy eating and sleeping habits
In India, poor mental health along with dangerously high exposure to social media has caused many teens and adolescents to be insecure about themselves, especially of their body image. However, most eating disorders in India go unnoticed. It is important to address these issues as a poor diet can further exacerbate mental health issues and cause unwanted weight gain or weight loss. It can also cause a massive detriment to other spheres of a teen’s life including physical health, and cause social anxiety and low self-esteem. The same is the case for low sleep. Teens suffering from insomnia due to poor mental health could feel lethargic and might not be able to perform well in daily activities. On the other hand, teens who sleep too much might feel groggy and inattentive when awake.
Ability to enjoy leisure time
A common symptom of depression is an inability to enjoy activities that one previously enjoyed. The ability to enjoy leisure time is important because it allows the teen to build their personality and explore avenues for extracurricular enjoyment. This contributes to them having a balanced life as they transform into young adults. An inability to enjoy leisure time can cause great resentment and anguish to a teen. It can sever social relations and stunt their personal growth. It can also prevent them from enjoying work and academic activities. It is important to recognize if your teen cannot enjoy leisure time and seek help from a counsellor or a therapist.
A teen or adolescent suffering from poor mental health is likely to withdraw from society and social interaction. This could potentially cause a long-lasting effect on their psyche and their ability to participate with their peers. Social development is important for teens to feel included and to enjoy their surroundings. Feeling cut off from the world could aggravate stress and depression tendencies in young teens and adolescents, and an inability to relate to their peers could further isolate them. During adulthood, this could translate into an inability to socialize and feel satisfied in one’s social relations. It is important to promote good mental health in teens and adolescents for their holistic development.
What to do if you notice signs of poor mental health in your teen or adolescents
It is always advisable to consult a therapist or a counsellor before approaching the topic directly with your teen. If possible, facilitate a channel of communication between the teen and a mental health professional. This is because it is very important to approach such issues with care and sensitivity. Always remember that the teen is not at fault for their behavior and resenting them will not yield a long-lasting change. In times such as these, it is important to be empathetic to their struggles.
If you feel that your teen is in danger of harming themselves, is facing an emergency mental health crisis, or if there is simply a need to speak to someone, you can contact the following free national mental health helplines:
- 08046110007, NIMHANS Mental Health Helpline
- 04424640050, 04424640060, Sneha Suicide Prevention Helpline
- 08376804102, Fortis Stress Helpline
- 09820466726, AASRA Suicide Prevention & Mental Health Helpline