By: A. Hemnani
Picture from: https://www.rochester.edu/newscenter/getting-fewer-likes-on-social-media-can-make-teens-anxious-and-depressed-453482/
Being a teenager, a difficult yet necessary phase of life, is the path for a child to reach adulthood. It is a period when young people struggle socially and emotionally to fit in. They are more sensitive to bullying, social exclusion, family dysfunction, school troubles, and trauma, all of which can contribute to mental health problems.
Teenagers have been around for as long as modern humans have, so, why are we suddenly hearing so much about teenage mental health? Researchers have found that during the pandemic there was a huge rise in mental health issues across all age groups, especially including teenagers, this is what led to the sudden global concern over this matter. The World Health Organization estimates ten to twenty percent of adolescents worldwide now struggle with mental health.
There are many types of metal health issues including: eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, depression, anxiety, psychosis, and behavioral disorders, among others. Consequentially, suicide is currently the fourth leading cause of death among 15–19-year-olds, this clearly indicates that mental health issues are becoming increasingly prevalent.
In the graph above we can clearly see that suicide rates have gone up since the pandemic, driven by increased adolescents’ stress and anxiety.
The added stress of the pandemic, however, is not the only cause for this increase. It may also be attributed to the advent of omnipresent social media, now an integral part of our modern world. Extensive use of it carries risks and spirals into addiction. Social media can make you compare yourself to others in unnecessary ways such as comparing likes, lifestyles or even physical appearance which can send people down the wrong path and can induce eating disorders, anxiety, depression, and even thoughts of suicide.
FOMO, fear of missing out, has become yet another problem amplified by social media. Constant posts of peoples’ whereabouts and who they meet has triggered a fear of not being included and invited to certain events. It can cause people to feel neglected and lonely.
During the pandemic many families sought after a therapist for help, but that is not the only solution for this problem. Engaging in activities such as team sports can help with having a balanced lifestyle. Physical activity releases endorphins, the body’s natural “happy chemicals,” and reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol and team sports enhance resilience, empathy, confidence, and empowerment. Finding a good circle of friends is yet another important factor to prevent mental health issues. Meditation, finding new hobbies and having some time to yourself are other things that are recommended to overcome this barrier in the difficult yet necessary, path from childhood to adulthood. So, what is your antidote to combating teenage mental health issues?