Positive Mental Health, Fighting Stigma and Promoting Resiliency for Children and Adolescents

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Mental Health Association in Pennsylvania » Children & Youth Organizations and Programs

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Emotional disorders commonly emerge during adolescence. In addition to depression or anxiety, adolescents with emotional disorders can also experience excessive irritability, frustration, or anger.

Symptoms can overlap across more than one emotional disorder with rapid and unexpected changes in mood and emotional outbursts. Younger adolescents may additionally develop emotion-related physical symptoms such as stomach ache, headache, or nausea. Globally, depression is the ninth leading cause of illness and disability among all adolescents; anxiety is the eighth leading cause. Withdrawal or avoidance of family, peers or the community can exacerbate isolation and loneliness.

Interventions for Adolescent Mental Health: An Overview of Systematic Reviews

At its worse, depression can lead to suicide. Childhood behavioural disorders are the sixth leading cause of disease burden among adolescents. Adolescence can be a time where rules, limits and boundaries are tested. However, childhood behavioural disorders represent repeated, severe and non-age-appropriate behaviours such as hyper-activity and inattention such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or destructive or challenging behaviours for example, conduct disorder.

Eating disorders commonly emerge during adolescence and young adulthood. Most eating disorders affect females more commonly than males.

Break the Stigma

Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder are characterised by harmful eating behaviours such as restricting calories or binge eating. Anorexia and bulimia nervosa also include a preoccupation with food, body shape or weight, and behaviours such as excessive exercise or vomiting to compensate for calorie intake.

People with anorexia nervosa have a low body weight and a heightened fear of weight gain. People with binge eating disorder can experience feelings of distress, guilt or self-disgust when binge eating. Disorders which include symptoms of psychosis most commonly emerge in late adolescence or early adulthood. Symptoms of psychosis can include hallucinations such as hearing or seeing things which are not there or delusions including fixed, non-accurate beliefs.

WHO response

In many contexts, adolescents with psychosis are highly stigmatized and at risk of human rights violations. It is estimated that 62 adolescents died in as a result of self-harm. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in older adolescents 15 — 19 years. Suicide attempts can be impulsive or associated with a feeling of hopelessness or loneliness.

Risk factors for suicide are multifaceted, including harmful use of alcohol, abuse in childhood, stigma against help-seeking, barriers to accessing care, and access to means. Communication through digital media about suicidal behaviour is an emerging concern for this age group. Many risk-taking behaviours for health, such as substance use or sexual-risk taking, start during adolescence. Harmful use of substances such as alcohol or drugs are major concerns in most countries.

Harmful substance use in adolescents increases the likelihood of further risk-taking such as unsafe sex. The use of tobacco and cannabis are additional concerns. In , based on data available from countries, it was estimated that 5.

Positive Mental Health, Fighting Stigma and Promoting Resiliency for Children and Adolescents

Many adult smokers have their first cigarette prior to the age of 18 years. Perpetration of violence is a risk-taking behaviour which can increase the likelihood of low educational attainment, injury, involvement with crime, or death. Interpersonal violence was ranked the second leading cause of death of older adolescent boys in Promotion of mental health and well-being helps adolescents in building resilience so that they can cope well in difficult situations or adversities. Promotion programmes for all adolescents and prevention programmes for adolescents at risk of mental health conditions require a multilevel approach with varied delivery platforms — for example, digital media, health or social care settings, schools, or the community.

It is crucial to address the needs of adolescents with defined mental health conditions. Avoiding institutionalization and over-medicalization, prioritizing non-pharmacological approaches, and respecting the rights of children in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and other human rights instruments are key for adolescents. It aims to assist governments in responding to the health needs of adolescents in their countries, including mental health. It emphasises the benefits of actively including adolescents in developing national policies, programmes and plans.

It considers issues related to adolescents throughout, including a specific module on Child and Adolescent Mental and Behavioural Disorders.