Raising awareness must amongst adolescents to prevent mental illness

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The health experts called for raising awareness among the adolescents to prevent mental illness.  As per the World Health Organisation report, it is estimated that 1 in 7 (14%) 10–19 year-olds experience mental health conditions globally but these remain largely unrecognized and untreated.  Half of all mental health issues begin before the age of 14.

The day was held this year with the theme ‘Mental Health is a Universal Human Right’ that calls for accelerating efforts in mental health in a human-rights based approach. On the occasion, the Union Health Minister virtually inaugurated new facilities at NIMHANS and launched the logo of Tele-MANAS to mark the day.

“For mental health to be recognized as a universal human right, there must be a transformation of societal attitudes and government policies. All necessary steps should be taken to protect populations from the risks of mental health conditions that include overarching issues such as climate change, humanitarian emergencies, social factors such as inequity and poverty”, said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia.

Speaking on the mental health issues among adolescents, Dr. Om Prakash, professor (Psychiatry), IHBAS, said that as the adolescence is a unique and formative time, the physical, emotional and social changes can make adolescents vulnerable to mental health problems. “Depression in adolescence is somewhat different from depression in adults. Adults can express their feelings whether they are feeling depressed or sad, while adolescents hardly express. If the adolescent avoids what is dear to them or doesn’t engage in their hobby, parents or teachers must take this seriously”, he said.

“In a nation where more than 10% of the population grapples with mental health and substance use disorders, access to mental healthcare is a basic necessity. Mental health is an integral component of overall health. It is utmost important to break the stigma and embrace the importance of mental well-being”, said Dr Isha, Psychiatry, RML Hospital.