What is Youth Mental Health?
One in six people are aged 10-19 years. Adolescence is a crucial period for developing social and emotional habits which are important for mental well-being. These include adopting healthy sleep patterns; exercising regularly; developing coping skills, problem-solving, and learning to manage emotions. Every child and young adult will experience difficulties during their informative years due to all of the transitional periods that they will go through. However, when a child or young adult continues to have negative thoughts and feelings which start to affect their daily life and stop them doing the things they enjoy, it would probably mean that some extra support for their mental health is needed.
Some signs to look out for can be:
Feeling nervous or worried all of the time
Not eating or sleeping property
Isolating from friends and family
Hurting themselves on purpose
Sudden changes in behaviour, like risk taking or out of control
Mental Health can present in many different forms:
Emotional disorders are common among adolescents. Stress, depression and panic are the most prevalent in this age group and are more common among older than among younger adolescents. Depression and anxiety share some of the same symptoms, including rapid and unexpected changes in mood.
Behavioural disorders are more common among younger adolescents than older adolescents. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), characterised by difficulty paying attention, excessive activity and acting without regard to consequence. Conduct disorder (involving symptoms of destructive or challenging behaviour). Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) is a long standing pattern of defiant and argumentative behaviour or attitudes toward caregivers, teachers, or other adults, vindictiveness toward others or a frequently irritable and angry mood or short temper which can make it very challenging to interact with other people. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is having thoughts, images or impulses that keep coming into the mind and are difficult to get rid of (obsessions). Common obsessions can include being afraid of dirt and germs, excessive washing and cleaning and checking things repeatedly.
Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder (BED) commonly emerge during adolescence and young adulthood. Eating disorders involve abnormal eating behaviour and preoccupation with food, avoiding social situations where food is involved, strict habits or routines with food, weight being very high or low, always feeling cold and concerns about body weight and shape. Anorexia nervosa has higher mortality than any other mental disorder.
Mental illness can be preventable and is certainly treatable. Mental health problems are unlikely to get better on their own and poor mental health or unmanaged mental health issues can affect a young person’s wellbeing and development, physical health, school and college work, career opportunities and progression, personal and family relationships and life chances.
If you are a young person or perhaps you have concerns regarding a child or young person who is experiencing mental health issues, it is important to get professional help as soon as possible. Most schools now have a school counsellor or pastoral support and there are many specialised counsellors that are trained to work with Children and Young People (CYP). Below are some organisations that both CYP and parents/carers can access to gain information or reach out and talk to others.