Life for teens is filled with many experiences and changes. While some of these changes are good, they are often difficult, or even negative for some teens. Common changes during this time may be social, emotional, physical, or hormonal in nature. Sometimes it can be a combination of things. Although these changes are normal, a person can become overwhelmed by them and, as a result, it can have a negative effect on his or her mental health.
The phrase “mental health” refers to the health of a person’s emotions and ability to cope with situations in life. A person with good mental health is in a state of well-being. When a person has poor mental health, he or she may suffer from a mental disorder or illness. These disorders are treatable, but first they must be recognized.
Good mental health is important, particularly during one’s teen years. During this time a person’s brain hasn’t yet reached maturity and it is still developing while he or she attempts to cope with the stress and pressure of the changes that are occurring during this time in life. A large number of people with mental disorders as an adult developed them or some related symptoms during their teen years. Statistically, 11 percent of teens suffer from a mental disorder that is serious enough to affect their school and social life. Of students with mental disorders, there is a 50 percent dropout rate. Another reason that mental health is important is the risk of suicide. On a yearly basis there are as many as one million suicide attempts by people who are between the age of 15 and 24. This makes it the third leading cause of death for people in this age group.
Mental health problems can happen to anyone and they can manifest in a number of different ways. Depression is one of the most common mental disorders amongst teens. A teen who suffers from depression or anxiety might do things such as self-mutilate, either by excessive piercing of the body or by cutting his or herself. Mood changes, as well as gaining, losing or obsessing about weight are also all associated with depression. A teen who is suffering from depression may be more susceptible to drinking, smoking or drug abuse. He or she might also be more likely to be sexually active. Eating disorders are one of the many disorders associated with mental health issues. This condition can cause a person to become obsessed with his or her appearance. A teen with an eating disorder may think that he or she is too fat, even if they are dangerously thin. This is often made worse by the images of celebrities on television, magazines and movies that portray “ideal” body types that are often unrealistic. The most common eating disorders are anorexia and bulimia. Fortunately, mental disorders can be successfully treated if they are diagnosed. Yearly, however, only 20 percent of the cases of mental disorder are recognized for what they are and receive treatment. In order to do this it is important for teens and their families and friends to be aware of the signs.
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