By Supekshya Neupane, 19, social activist
Topic: Mental health crisis among teens
Namaste everyone! This is Supekshya Neupane and I feel overwhelmed to welcome you to my presentation on the theme of empowerment in Glocal International Teen Conference 2019. First and foremost, I’d like to thank the organizers for organizing such a grand event and for the opportunity they have provided me to be here. To briefly introduce myself, I’d like to call myself a learner who is passionate about learning and speaking.
Today, I’ll be discussing on Mental health Crisis Among Teens. I chose this topic because the issue of mental health is so common these days, yet no one is willing to share their story of mental illness and be vulnerable. My presentation is directed towards empowering teens regarding mental health issues prevailing globally as to ensure open and friendly environment to talk about mental health. I’ll be presenting about what I’ve learnt and heard about this issue.
According to WHO, Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to contribute to her or his community. Likewise, Mental illnesses, also known as mental health disorders, refer to a wide range of mental health conditions that affects your ordinary mood and behavior. However, they are treatable health conditions and are very common in the world today. Half of all the mental illnesses start by the 14 years of age and suicide is the third leading cause of death in people of age 15- 19 years which is a result of mental health.
So, let’s talk about the problems. Some of the common mental health disorders are anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, OCDs, eating disorders and so on. Talking about the current scenario of mental health disorders, they are still considered taboos even though mental health conditions account for 16% of the global diseases and injuries occurring to 10-19 years. It is estimated that 20% of the global population experience adverse mental health conditions but due to the lack of awareness people diagnosed with any type of mental illness are insane are not accepted by the society.
Talking about the teens, majority of the teens are stressed if not depressed which have been creating a negative impact on their mental health. Teenagers aged 16-19 among all teens are most affected by mental problems. Now, let’s talk about the causes and effects of these mental illnesses. They are mainly caused by over growing physical and emotional changes, sleep deprivation, peer pressure, unrealistic expectations, stresses in family, genetics and so on in general. They lead to certain anger, fear and sadness. Teenagers also tend to experiment with drugs or alcohol which may become extremely aggressive and hostile during their phase. They may even try to commit suicide or even if not, it may result to social isolation and lower productivity often causing chronic stress.
It is utmost important for every teen to understand the causes and effects of these mental illnesses along with their treatment. The treatments of mental health disorders include psychotherapy, medications, peer support, self-help plan, temporary hospitalization etc. Psychotherapy is the use of psychological methods such as counselling to help people with a broad variety of mental illnesses and emotional difficulties. It has been shown to be effective to improve emotions and to be linked with positive changes in the brain and body. Medications can help improve mental health, if not completely cure them. It can help make psychotherapy more effective. It is also important for teenagers to prepare a self-help plan and seek support from their peers. In few cases, temporary hospitalizations, may also be necessary so that the patients can be closely monitored and accurately diagnosed.
Even after their treatment, they may not be well accepted by society. This can lead to hiding of mental illnesses which may have dire consequences. This should stop. People with mental health problems should not be treated as victims but instead as survivors. They should be given an opportunity to live a life full of dignity and their diagnosed illnesses should not create any hurdle in the future just as no physical illness does.
As more young people get affected by such illnesses, it is important for every teenager to be vocal about mental health problems more than ever before. It is important for people to understand that it is okay not to be okay. As youths, we can contribute to reduce mental health crisis by getting involved in campaigns and working with organizations who advocate for mental health awareness. But most importantly, we should start from ourselves. You need to reduce your stress and do what makes you happy and please don’t hesitate to talk about your problems to your friends.
I am working for mental health awareness from a very small scale. Through my stories and articles, I am doing my part. I want to work on a large scale in the very near future. There are different organizations like Koshish National, CMC (Cector for Mental Health and Counselling) Nepal etc are working for mental health awareness. Similarly, youth connection centre and AYON recently conducted a three days campaign called ‘My psycho health’ in different colleges and institutions. These kinds of programs should continue which have the capability of creating an impact on a large scale.
I appeal to everyone not to ignore the pain within your mid and that of anyone near you because change starts from you. Thank you!