Globally one in seven 10-19 year olds are experiencing a mental health condition. This account for 13% of the global burden of disease for this age group.
Adolescence is a crucial time in a persons life, as this is when they develop their social and emotional habits which are vital to their mental well-being. At this stage in your life, you are forming and adopting sleep habits, coping strategies, problem-solving skills, interpersonal skills and learning how to manage your emotions.
Therefore, being surrounded by a protective, supportive and encouraging environment, both at home and in school, is very important.
50% of mental health conditions are established by the age of 14 and 75% by the age of 24.
There are many risk factors that can impact on the development of a mental health disorder in adolescence:
- Exposure to adversity
- Pressure to conform with peers
- Exploration of your own identity
- Media influence
- Quality of home life
- Exposure to violence (sexual / bullying)
- Harsh parenting
- Stigma, discrimination, exclusion
- Chronic illness
- Autism / ADHD
- Neurological conditions
- Being young parents
- Forced marriages
- Losing parents / loved ones
Anxiety disorders are most prevalent in this age group:
3.6% of 10-14 year olds and 4.6% of 15-19 year olds, experience an anxiety disorder
Early detection and intervention can make a huge difference, however, support can be difficult to access – with extreme waiting lists and lack of after care.
The Mental Health Act is Due a Reform:
The Mental Health Act is 40-years old and has never been reformed, despite the fact that times are changing. It is set to be reviewed and reformed this year, however the government are once again trying to delay this.
We cannot allow, nor can we afford, for this to be shoved aside any longer.
There are many issues with the current Mental Health Act:
- People who are detained under this act do not have enough say when it comes to their treatment – nor does it offer a way to appeal decisions that have been made regarding they care.
- It does not work for young people. Youths are often inappropriately placed on adult hospital wards, far away from their family homes, due to lack of space and resources available. They are also often restrained and ignored, being left to deal with the confusing system on their own.
- When being discharged and going back to their communities, support that they were promised would continue, never materialises.
- Racial disparities are seen in how it is used – Black people are 4-times more likely to be detained under the act than white people, and are 11 times more likely to be subjected to community treatment orders.
- Community treatment orders do not work. They are meant to give people supervised support within their communities and give them a set of conditions to follow once they return home – but they do not reduce the level of readmissions. They are often intrusive and restrictive and people do not know what to do in order to have the order removed.
Mental health conditions during adolescence can affect school attendance and school work. They may become socially withdrawn, which can exacerbate isolation and loneliness.
Suicide is the 4th leading cause of death in 15-29 year olds.
Depression and anxiety, along with behavioural disorders, are among the leading causes of illness and disability in adolescence.