Puberty blues: The very real issue of youth mental health

Posted on September 30, 2013

The onset of mental illness can occur as young as 14, so it stands to reason that the emotional wellbeing of youth is a very real and very relevant concern in today’s society.

Some of the problems young people face are longstanding; drug and alcohol abuse, family trauma, peer pressure and suicide, while others such as homelessness, cyber-bullying and self-harm have also emerged, perhaps now more than ever presenting even greater challenges.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare states that mental disorders accounted for almost 50 per cent of the total disease burden among young people in 2003. That was 10 years ago, and data released by the institute last year shows that one in five Australians aged 16 to 85 years has a mental disorder at some time in a 12-month period, with one in four of those aged between 16 and 24 years.

In a 12 month period, the institute states that there were more than 47,000 hospitalisations for mental disorders among young people with half of these being for psychoactive substance use, schizophrenia and depression.

Dubbo College student support worker Nathan Griffith agrees that the onset of mental illness can occur in youth and sees mental health issues in young people each and every day.

He is firm in his belief that the issue lies in connectivity and is a passionate advocate for introducing legislation limiting social media for minors.

“For young people, their normal world is online, they are in it for 90 per cent of the time,” he points out.

“Time spent with family and at school, that’s their virtual world. Kids are becoming addicted to technology as young as four and five and then needing detox by the time they’re 12.”

“If we can introduce community-based and support in schools, then we’ve got a way to intervene. And if we can intervene with adolescents, then they’re more likely to become healthy functioning adults.”

Category(s):Child Development, Teenage Issues

Source material from Dubbo Photo News

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