Mental health: A Mortal Enigma

Young adulthood is a pivotal period of time in any individual’s life, where an individual transition from adolescence to adulthood. Young adulthood (19 year to 25 year) is period, when individuals experience metamorphic changes, for example starting university, leaving home. These associated changes bring instability in person’s life, which can have adverse effect on them mentally. During this period, the individual is typically expected to make major living adjustments, cultivate new relationships, develop new skills and learn to cope with new experiences. This is an exciting time for many, however, can also be times of stress and apprehension. And in some cases, if not promptly recognized and managed, these feelings can lead to mental illness. The life of young adult is like a rollercoaster ride filled with ups and downs and ins and outs. A successful transition to young adulthood will form a solid foundation for the individual in later stages of developments. These growing years in every individual’s life can have a lifelong impact.

 

The augmented use of social media and other technologies, undoubtedly have many benefits but the excessive use of the same technologies and social media has the power to bring the additional pressures as people tend to compare their real life with the fancy virtual world. Many young minds are also living in areas affected by conflicts, disasters and epidemics. They are more vulnerable to mental distress and illness. The emerging phenomenon of Cyber-suicide in this internet era is also a matter of concern. The internet can provide necessary information and may help in preparation for an attempt to suicide. It may also trigger imitation by individuals as all the sensational stories surrounding the suicide or self-harm are out there on a click of button. However, the internet, if used judiciously can play a positive role by helping to prevent suicide. Internet and social media can also be the source of reporting about coping strategies in adverse circumstances and where and whom to seek help from in case of depression or anxiety.

The two main diagnostic categories of common mental health disorders are: depressive disorder and anxiety disorder. The consequences of these disorders on health is huge. Although depression can and does affect people of any age group and from all walks of life but the chances of getting depressed and anxious increases with transformative living changes, stress related to work and academic performance, drugs or alcohol misuse, relationship break-up or death of a loved one. Mental depression is ranked by WHO as the single largest contributor to global disability (7.5% of all years lived with disability in 2015); anxiety disorders are ranked 6th (3.4%). Depression is also a major contributor to suicide deaths. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29 years of age. One person every 40 seconds die due to suicide, worldwide. Suicidal behaviour has existed throughout human history, but due to several complex factors of young adulthood, it is increasing gradually in this age group in all the parts of world and now it has reached the alarming statistical levels.

 

There is a growing recognition of building mental resilience in young people, in order to help them cope with the challenges of fast paced today’s world. For coping strategies to be more culturally sensitive, the understanding of region-specific suicide factors is important. Promoting mental health and preventing mental health disorders in adolescents and young adults brings long term benefits with itself and builds a healthy adult, who can contribute more to workforce, families, communities and society as a whole.

Considerable work can be done in order to build mental resilience from early age to prevent mental illness and distress among adolescents and young adults. Promotion and prevention of mental health begins with raising awareness and understanding about early signs and symptoms. School and colleges are like a second home to students hence teachers can be involved and help build life skills of young adult in addition to parents at home to cope up with everyday challenges of life.  Psychosocial support should be provided in colleges and workplaces. Training must be given to health workers in community settings to enable them to detect and manage the early signs and symptoms of mental health disorders. Multisectoral involvement and investment by governments in an integrated, evidence-based, comprehensive programmes for the mental health of young people is necessary. The programmes, to raise awareness among young adults of ways to look after their as well as peer’s mental health with the support of parents, teachers and colleagues should be in place. The parents and colleagues should also be oriented on how to support. Awareness drives should be undertaken in colleges and offices. Counselling support should be provided in workplace and young adults with mental disorder should be encouraged to join support group.

There is still a long way to go, but the acceptance of the need for change is there. World Mental Health Day is a great opportunity for raising awareness, which is commemorated on 10th October, each year but the hard work to prevent mental health disorder should continue throughout the year. The right of people to live a healthy life and receive mental health services according to individual needs should be the vision, hereafter.

 

Anushree

Second Year MPH
Department of Preventive & Social Medicine
JIPMER

CHD Group

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