How Mental Health Affects Teens

Child and adolescent psychiatry is a specialty within Psychiatry that works with the emotional, behavioral, developmental, and mental health needs of children and teenagers.

Mental health is one of the significant issues that teens face daily. Mental health has become a substantial issue in the world. Depression, anxiety, conduct, and bipolar disorder are just a few mental disorders affecting an increasing number of people yearly.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 90% of all mental illnesses start before the age of 24, including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. When identified early, you can improve your life, develop positive and rewarding social relationships, and positively change the course of your future.

What are pre-teen and teenage mental health?

Pre-teen and teenage mental health studies show young adults’ mental health develops over time. These include both their emotional and social well-being, as well as their physical health.

All children and young people develop at different rates. Some are more independent or self-confident, while others do not value or struggle to create friendships. For others, schoolwork may be difficult, while others excel and quickly become bored with the material and pace. 

Sometimes, however, a child or young person have problems that affect their day-to-day life. These challenges can include anxiety, depression, or ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). They might also have difficulties communicating with other people around them – for example, getting along with friends or family members or coping with school or work situations.

This is why identifying pre-teen and teenage learning and mental health issues early is essential, putting into place the appropriate plan, improving and encouraging positive social development, and reducing escalation of negative impulsive actions.

Factors affecting teenage mental health

The adolescent years are a time of significant emotional, hormonal, social, and physical growth. During these developmental years, children become more aware of their mortality.

As a result, teens often feel they are trapped in an adult body, a different body, and want more control over how they feel and look. These feelings of not having control can lead to anxiety, depression, and actions labeled as self-cutting, gender exploration, or eating disorders.

Many factors can contribute to mental health challenges in teenagers. Some of the most common include

Biological factors

Biological or genetic factors may be responsible for some teenagers developing mental health problems. Living within a family with a history of mental illness, or the teen is genetically predisposed. 

These factors include

Genetics: Research has shown that people with a family history of mental health conditions are more likely to develop it themselves. Some medical disorders are hereditary.

Brain Injury: An injury to your brain can cause changes in your thinking, emotions, and behavior. TBIs can be caused by an accident or fall, but they’re usually the result of violence, such as military combat or domestic abuse.

Infection or Disease: Certain infections and diseases can cause symptoms similar to mental illness — for example, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), sepsis, Lyme disease, and syphilis. In some cases, these conditions may be misdiagnosed as psychiatric disorders because they produce similar symptoms (such as hallucinations).

Prenatal Damage: Prenatal damage can be caused by exposure to drugs or alcohol during pregnancy. The unborn child’s body cannot detoxify itself from these substances as it grows, so they go on to affect the developing brain.

Substance Abuse: Substance abuse is one of the most common causes of cognitive issues in young adults today. Drugs and alcohol can damage neurons and synapses, leading to long-term learning and memory issues.

Environmental Factors

These factors involve external influences on our mind and body, including diet and lifestyle choices, exposure to stressors like abuse or trauma, peer pressure, etc. These factors can either increase or decrease the chances of developing mental health issues depending on how much influence they exert on the teens.

The following environmental factors may contribute to teenage mental health:

  • Trauma – emotional, sexual, or physical abuse
  • Bullying
  • Demands at school or work
  • Unstable or dysfunctional home environment – for example, domestic violence.
  • Early loss – such as the loss of a parent or sibling
  • Unsafe living conditions
  • Obesity
  • Chronic illness
  • Natural disaster
  • Car Accident
  • Acts of violence – such as school shootings
  • Witness another person experience a traumatic event
  • Cultural or social expectations – societies that value beauty connected to thinness can be a factor in the development of eating disorders
  • Feelings of inadequacy – low self-esteem, anger, anxiety, or loneliness

Social Media

According to a report by the Pew Research Center in 2022, 81% of U.S. teens aged 13 to 17 use social media, and most of them report using it daily. The same report found that 45% of teens use social media for three or more hours, while 26% use it for one to two hours daily. 

In addition, the pandemic has led to increased social media use among teens. A 2020 survey by Common Sense Media found that teens’ average time spent on social media increased by nearly an hour per day during the pandemic. These statistics suggest that social media is a significant part of many teens’ daily lives and may substantially influence their well-being and development.

The amount of time spent on social media also has adverse effects on teenagers in several ways:

  • It leads to increased anxiety, depression, and loneliness as teens compare their lives to others and feel pressure to present a perfect image online. 
  • It can be addictive, leading to decreased productivity and unhealthy levels of screen time. 
  • Cyberbullying and online harassment can occur, causing emotional distress and even leading to self-harm or suicide. 
  • Contributes to the spread of misinformation and disinformation, leading to confusion and polarization on important social and political issues. 
  • It is an easy platform for strangers and predators to find and target vulnerable individuals. Teens are more likely to share personal information online, which others can use to track their location or identity. 

As a result, parents and guardians should be vigilant about monitoring their teens’ social media use and helping them stay safe online.

How do we address teens’ mental health?

Teenagers are at high risk for mental health issues, which can put them at risk for alcohol and drug abuse, anxiety, and depression.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), about one in five adolescents report experiencing a mental health condition.

Teens often spend more time with their peers than their parents or other adult role models. This makes it harder for them to talk openly about their feelings or ask for help when needed. The hormonal changes that occur during puberty can make it challenging to learn new things, such as how to manage emotions and relationships.

Parents should be aware that early intervention addresses mental health issues among children and adolescents. The earlier a problem is identified and addressed, the better the chance for successful treatment. Parents need to talk openly about mental health issues with their children so they can recognize signs of a problem developing — before it becomes too late.

Getting help for your teenage mental health problems

If your teenager is struggling with mental health issues, getting them the help and support they need can be difficult. It is crucial to get professional help as soon as possible. There are many professional support options, including:

  • General Practitioners (GP)
  • Psychiatrist (MD)
  • School counselors
  • Psychologists and Counsellors
  • Social Workers
  • Local community health Centres
  • Local or state/territory mental health services
  • The Mental Health Management Group

Conclusion

Today’s teens face more complex challenges than previous generations. Whether navigating the complexities of social media, learning to live in a world filled with violence, or struggling to succeed academically and professionally, it seems like the world has become more complex and stressful for adolescents. But as challenging as it might seem, keeping a positive attitude can go a long way toward helping teens overcome their struggles. By working with parents and professionals, teens can set goals for overcoming mental health issues to live happier, healthier lives.

FAQs

What Does Mental Health Do to Teenagers?

Teens with mental health problems often struggle with schoolwork, getting along with friends and family members, or taking care of themselves. They may also have problems managing their emotions and behavior.

How Can Parents Help Their Teenagers With Mental Health?

Parents are the first line of defense regarding their children’s mental health. They can provide support at home and help them access community resources. Here are some tips for parents:

– Knowing what mental health is and how it affects teens.
– Talk with your teen about mental health and encourage them to talk about their feelings.
– Encourage your teen to get help if they need it.
– Support your teen through treatment and recovery from mental illness or substance abuse problems.

What Are Common Mental Health Issues in Teens?

The most common mental health issues in teens are Anxiety disorders, depression, and behavioral disorders.

What Causes Teenage Mental Illness?

The causes of teenage mental illness are complex and not fully understood. Many factors contribute to mental health and well-being, including genetics, environment, life events, abuse, trauma, and stress.

What Are Some Resources for Mental Health?

Many resources are available for parents to find more information about mental health concerns. The following organizations provide information on all aspects of child and adolescent psychiatry:

1. The Mental Health Management Group
2. Mental Health America
3. National Alliance on Mental Illness
4. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
5. The American Psychological Association
6. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

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