We all remember the time of our youth with great fondness. It was a time when we were full of energy and potential. We were told that we were the creators of our nation’s bright future. It was a time when we were happy. Has the situation changed over the years? Is the youth still happy, or has it been slowly falling prey to the deadly nature of a young mind? The answer is not so comforting.
Youth & Mental Health
The problem with most of the studies done on youth and their mental state is that there is no universal age limit of ‘Youth’. There have been researches which considered the people from 18-24 years old as young (Australia) and then there were studies for whom everyone between 0-16 years is young (India). The rates of prevalence of mental disorders among the youth vary largely as well. The rates range from 27% in Australia to 8% in Netherlands. India stands at about 13%.
It was found that developed countries have higher rates of prevalence than developing nations. This can be attributed to the quality of healthcare available to the public in these countries. In developing countries, healthcare and specially, mental health care is not given a lot of importance. To say that India fares much better than developed countries would be a folly. We cannot look down upon the rust in other countries when we don’t even know how much of our system is plagued by it.
Young people (12-24 in my opinion) have a lot going through their mind and body at this age. Puberty hits and we have hormones raging through our blood. This period is also marred by high performance stress (academic and professional) on the young minds. Families dismiss the problems of their children as ‘teenage issues’ and the peers don’t know any better than anyone else. This is the time when people fall in love, have their hearts broken, experiment with stuff and regret some other stuff. This has led to a situation where the young ones have nowhere to go for guidance and they find themselves alone. Loneliness is a festering ground for our mind to entrap us.
Public mental health interventions are an obvious solution. Governments must invest in health care and make sure that every individual has access to high quality healthcare, both physical and mental.
We cannot expect the government to do everything for us though.
We must, and by we, I mean everyone who cares for someone in their life, we must not be afraid of intervening in someone’s life. Many times we are scared of what will happen if you say something. We are always so afraid of what could go wrong that we don’t think about what could go right. We put down the problems of those around as ‘normal’ but having problems in life is not normal.
If someone is upset after a hard breakup, how can we expect them to feel better if we just tell them that it’s normal? It is not normal to be upset. We need to be willing to listen to understand, not to respond.
It is true that the youth is what drives a country towards her dreams. The hard pill that we must swallow though is that we cannot expect people to take care of our future, if we aren’t willing to take care of them. If you have someone around you, or have heard about someone who is struggling, do something.
You could end up saving a life.
Patel, V., Flisher, A. J., Hetrick, S., & McGorry, P. (2007). Mental health of young people: a global public-health challenge. The Lancet, 369(9569), 1302-1313.