The challenging phase of adolescence

Though considered as a unique and exciting phase, adolescents during the adolescence period experience a pool of new changes, challenges, ideas and so on.

Further, this period is viewed as risky for mental health problems as the brains of the adolescents are still maturing in their exploring phase in terms of realizing what is right and wrong, gaining emotional recognition and how to make mature decisions to solve problems. Therefore, by identifying the risk factors or adverse experiences in the adolescents’ life, the adolescents’ psychological well-being and the potential to thrive can be effectively promoted.

 The fluctuations in adolescents’ mental stability

Even when the roots of mental health problems for each adolescent differ, the following are a few of the commonly reported ones:

  • Emotional Disorder: Whether the reasons are existing or non-existing, adolescents experience excessive negative emotions of anger, irritability or frustration. Additionally, they also engage in rapid mood changes and unexpected emotional outbursts combined with feelings of anxiety and depression. These further interfere with physical bodily functions causing one to develop headache, nausea or stomachache.
  • Childhood behavioural disorders: Under this are first, the attention deficit disorder (characterized by engaging in excessive activities without any regards for the consequences and have difficulty paying attention) which affect the adolescent’s education and learning abilities. Secondly, conduct disorder involves symptoms of challenging or destructive behaviours such as criminal related behaviours.
  • Eating disorders: females are commonly found to be victims of conditions such as bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Characterized by binge or restrictive eating behavioural patterns, these disorders have a detrimental effect on physical health and often co-exist with substance abuse, anxiety or depression.
  • Psychosis: Sometimes adolescents depict symptoms of delusions or hallucinations which impairs his/her ability to actively carry out daily-life activities.
  • Suicide and self-harm: Actions of suicide or self-harm account for almost 90% of the reported adolescent deaths across the world. When exposed to risk factors such as childhood abuse, not feeling belonged, being involved in serious conflicts in the long run and so on, the mental wiring of adolescents is tuned in a way that leads them to think ending their life is the best possible solution to escape from the hurtful experiences encountered.
  • Risk-taking behaviour: During the adolescence period, many adolescents engage in risk-taking behaviours of illegal drugs, sexual activities, smoking, violent activities etc., which lower the adolescents’ ability to cope with mental and physical well-being as well as increases the chances of low educational attainment and high involvement with crime-related activities
Ways to promote mental well-being among adolescents

For adolescents to think straight and have enhanced mental well-being, it is crucial for parents and/or educators to sustain a strong relationship with them that highly reduces the chances of experiencing mental health problems. The following are some strategies to adopt to promote the adolescents’ well-being:

  • Ensuring a safe and supportive environment is crucial such as showing feelings of love, care, affection and belongingness which draws the adolescents to feel positive and connected
  • Appreciating or praising the efforts, achievements and opinions of adolescents helps them to gain a sense of self-esteem and have higher life-satisfaction
  • Encouraging adolescents to be transparent about their thoughts and beliefs enhances a sense of trust. This will also help adolescents think that they do not have to go through anything alone and solutions can be worked out together
  • Teach them qualities/strategies such as being resilient to deal and overcome challenges that arise, rather let them build-up
  • Reinforce positive behaviour and abilities for decision-making, problem-solving, conflict resolutions etc., by providing extensive support
  • Approaching a counsellor or psychologist is very beneficial for adolescents to rediscover themselves and tune their mind in the right direction
  • Engaging in mental health programmes mainly aimed at strengthening the ability of adolescents to regulate emotions, analyze alternatives to risk-taking behaviour and so on enhances their mental health.
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