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Mental Health: A Threat to Our Youth

Youth Mental Health

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The mental health crisis is on the rise worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, there has been a 13% increase in mental health problems and substance use disorders in the last decade.

Youth mental health is no exception. One out of every five adolescents and teenagers meets the criteria needed to diagnose a mental health disorder. That’s 20% of the world’s youth.

According to Polaris Teen Center, 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness will develop by the age of 14, and 75% by age 24.

With suicide being the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 29, being educated on youth mental health and mental health first aid could be life-saving.

Common Youth Mental Health Conditions:

  • Anxiety
  • Stress-related disorders
  • Mood disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorders
  • Disruptive-behavioural disorders attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or oppositional defiant disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Eating disorders

What Causes Youth Mental Health?

The causes of Youth Mental Health can be determined by two key elements: Biology and Environment. These comprise a range of factors.

The Biological factors include:

  • Genetics- Genes can make an adolescent predisposed to diagnoses, they can be responsible for abnormalities in development, and they can influence one’s vulnerability to depression, anxiety, personality, and even substance abuse.
  • Brain Injury- The brain is the control centre of the nervous system. Any trauma to the brain can cause mental health problems and increase the chance of substance abuse and addiction.
  • Prenatal Damage- Harm or injury that occurs while in the mother’s womb is considered prenatal damage. This can be a strong contributing factor to a youth mental health problem.
  • Substance Abuse- Any substance abuse, especially long-term, can contribute to youth developing a mental health disorder.

Whilst Environmental Factors can be:

  • Trauma
  • Bullying
  • Demands at school/work
  • Unstable or dysfunctional home environment
  • Unsafe living conditions
  • Obesity
  • Chronic illness
  • Car accident
  • Natural disaster
  • Acts of violence
  • Witnessing a traumatic event
  • Social expectations (near impossible beauty and weight standards)
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Loneliness

Warning Signs to Watch for

If you work with children or have your own it’s important to keep an eye on the following symptoms so that you can provide comfort and help. Some warning signs can include: 

  • Becoming socially withdrawn
  • Frequent illness
  • Ongoing moodiness (lasting more than a few days)
  • Changes in eating habits (including weight change)
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Ongoing irritability or anger
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviours
  • Expressing hopelessness

What Can You Do to Help Your Child?

The best way to help your child in preventing youth mental health is to be well educated.

Enrolling in First Aid Pro’s Youth Mental Health First Aid course (YMHFA) is a great place to start.

It’s a 14 hour, classroom-based course. The course can be delivered over two or three days and can be spread out over one or two weeks.

You’ll cover various topics and receive a copy of the Youth MHFA manual and first-aid certificate accredited with Mental Health First Aid Australia upon completion.

What is Youth Mental Health First Aid?

Youth Mental health first aid is a training course that will get you equipped to help youth with one or more of the following ailments:

  • A developing a mental health problem
  • Struggling with substance abuse
  • Worsening mental health issue
  • In a mental health crisis

Topics You’ll Cover in a Youth Mental Health First Aid Course:

  • Introduction to mental health problems and mental health first aid
  • Signs, symptoms and risk factors associated with common mental health issues
  • Mental health first aid action plan- ALGEE
  • How to approach and assess the situation
  • When and how to intervene
  • What to say and what not to say

Mental Health Issues Covered:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Psychosis
  • Substance use problems- drugs and alcohol
  • Eating disorders

Mental Health Crisis Covered:

  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviours
  • Non-suicidal self-injury
  • Panic attacks
  • Trauma
  • Severe psychotic states
  • Severe effects of drug and alcohol use
  • Aggressive behaviours

As a parent, it’s essential to be mindful of what’s going on in your child’s life. Be tuned in to their behaviour and how they’re dealing with life on an emotional level.

Every individual experiences life in a unique manner, and stress affects us all differently.

The youth disorders mental health crisis is rising. It’s crucial to catch any signs early so you can get your child the help they need.

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