Adolescence is a crucial phase of a life in which a child transitions into an adult. It is a tumultuous period of rapid changes, uncertainty, identity formation, restlessness and curiosity. At the same time, it is a very exciting time of self-exploration, socialization and adventures etc. The growing demands of modern times, changing values and expectations, shifting relationships, the shrinking space to explore oneself and rapid physical and mental changes put adolescents in the state of perplexity and may not be able to comprehend the changes properly. This may lead to the experience of stress from mild to severe. Seeking out avenues to channel out their frustrations and stress, they can develop unhealthy coping of stress which can lead to risky behaviors such as the use of drugs, alcohol, aggression, apathy towards others and even to suicide as well. The stress for some of them becomes too much to handle due to which they might develop mental health problems. In this context, the World Health Organization is celebrating this year’s World Mental Health Day on October 10, with the theme ‘Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World’.
Adolescent’s mental health status in Global Scenario
According to the World Health Organization's Fact Sheet, 1 in 6 people is aged 10-19 years whereas mental health conditions account for 16% of the global burden of disease and injury in people aged 10-19 years. Depression is regarded as one of the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents and suicide is said to be the third leading causes of death in 15-19 years olds globally. Half of all mental health conditions start by 14 years of age and three quarters by mid-20s but most cases are undetected or untreated due to stigma and lack of awareness in such issues. The consequences of not addressing adolescent mental health conditions extend to adulthood, impairing both physical and mental health and limiting opportunities to lead lives in adulthood with good well-being and full potentiality.
Scenario in Nepal
According to the report of Central Bureau of Statistics (2014), the population of adolescents makes about a quarter of the total population which stands at about 6.4 million. There are several issues that concern Nepali adolescents such as child marriage, child labor, migration, maternal mortality rate, sexual exploitation, trafficking, HIV AIDS, mental health etc. Adolescents in Nepal have huge risks of developing mental illness but the facilities of the treatment haven’t been focused on adolescents mental health solely. WHO ( 2006) reported that among 18 outpatient mental health facilities available in the country none of the health facilities are meant for children and adolescents only. But, in 2015, Kanti Children’s Hospital has opened a child and adolescent mental and health outpatient ward to provide psychiatric treatment and psychosocial counseling to children under 18 years. The rate of incidence of suicide among adolescents is alarmingly increasing every year. It has been found that suicide rate among adolescents jumped from 5% in 2005 AD to 15.7% in 2009 AD.
Dealing with Adolescent's Issue
Having a mental health issue in the early age of life is not a choice or a conscious decision, it can be due to environmental or biological reasons. Though we might not control the happening of the mental health condition to a young people we for sure can prevent its happening or at least deal with the issue in such a way that every mentally ill can live their life with dignity. Firstly and majorly, starting with a conversation on such issues will be a help while dealing with adolescent's mental issues, it will not only help to bring awareness but help adolescent to acknowledge and speak up in the initial phase will help in early detection and treatment. Likewise, making educational institutions, family and community awareness and empowered to deal with such issues will be another way to help young people live there with full potential and productivity in this changing world.