Adolescents’ mental health and wellness: A contemporary issue
Introduction Adolescence can be a difficult time in life. It is often marked by many internal and external stresses. Social media, peer pressure, drug abuse and bullying are among the many contemporary issues that affect adolescent behaviour and well-being. Mental health and wellbeing of adolescents are among the most important contemporary issues due to their profound impact on adolescent development and behavior. This article discusses the modern issue of the mental health and wellbeing of adolescents.
Adolescents’ Mental Wellness and Health is Today’s Contemporary Topic. Adolescents’ mental wellness and health are a significant issue today. In the United States, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 adolescents aged between 13 and18 years suffer from mental illness. The majority of lifetime cases start at the age of 14 (NAMI 2021). Mental illness is common among teenagers. This can be attributed to external factors such as peer pressure, school pressure, financial pressure, or family issues.
Adolescents’ Mental Wellness and External Stressors: The stressors that affect mental wellness and health can be classified into three categories: individual, social, and family. Self-esteem problems, anxiety, depression and suicidal ideas are some of the individual stressors. Stressors in the family include financial hardships, divorce of parents, neglect and domestic violence. Other social stressors are bullying, peer-pressure, and drug abuse. The use of social networks is a stressor that affects the mental wellness and health of teenagers. Studies show excessive usage of these platforms to be associated with depression, anxiety and loneliness.
Assessing Mental Health of Adolescents, and Stressors External to the Adolescents For a comprehensive assessment of the mental health of adolescents and stressors external to them requires validated screening instruments such as the Patient Health Questions for Adolescents Scale and Generalized Anxiety disorder scale (GAD-7). The PHQ A is a self report tool which assesses depressive symptoms. The GAD-7 assesses anxiety symptoms. Standardized interviews should be used to gather information about external stressors that affect the adolescent. The family’s mental health history should also be assessed, as it can provide clues to the adolescent’s mental health status.
Additional Assessment Questions Needed to Ask and Ethical Parameters Additional assessment questions needed to ask include the adolescent’s history of trauma, substance use, and exposure to violence. Other questions should focus on the adolescent’s family dynamics, social networks, and academic performance. Ethical parameters dictate that information obtained from the assessment should be treated confidentially, with the adolescent’s informed consent sought before any information is shared with parents or guardians. Confidentiality may not be respected if an adolescent has suicidal, homicidal, or violent tendencies.
Support for Adolescents Facing External Stressors The support options available for adolescents facing external stressors must be tailored according to the stressor. Social media stressors, for example, can be reduced by encouraging teens to spend less time on social media. Instead they should focus more on face-to-face interaction and physical activity. Academic support can help reduce stress caused by school-related issues, such as tutoring or counseling. Stressors relating to the family may need therapy while stressors pertaining to substance abuse may require counseling.