Adolescence is a very difficult time of transitions. Children are in-limbo evolving from childhood to adulthood; they are attempting to find their identity, fit in at school, keep up with the pressures of social media, cope with the pressure of school work and exams, decide on a fulfilling career and manage the many hormonal and bodily changes occurring. These all sound challenging enough but then imagine suffering from a mental health condition as well. This is much more common than people may believe.
Mental health is a huge umbrella under which many disorders are placed. The most common include:
- Substance use disorders
How common are these disorders in Australia?
The statistics when it comes to mental health disorders for adolescents in Australia are extremely concerning.
· Australia has the second highest rate in the WORLD of antidepressant prescriptions per capita, and this is increasing by about 25% each year.
· 1 in 4 adolescents have a mental illness.
· 1 in 3 girls suffer from anxiety disorders.
· 1 in 16 adolescents suffer from depression.
· At least one third of young people have had an episode of mental illness by the time they are 25 years old.
· Suicide is the biggest killer of young Australians and accounts for the death of more young people than car accidents.
· 65% of young people suffering from a mental health condition do not seek help.
There are several factors that have been shown to contribute to poor mental health. These include:
· Neurotoxic substances
· Poor nutrition
· Challenging life events
Apart from medication, some of the other essential treatments for boosting mood and enhancing brain function include:
· Adequate nutrition
· Physical activity
· Adequate sleep
· Meaning and purpose in life
· Social connections
· Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
· Natural treatments such as herbal medicine, nutritional supplements and flower essences.
If your child is suffering or displaying symptoms of a mental health condition it is so important they seek help as soon as possible. The longer seeking help is delayed, the more damage that will occur and the more difficult it will be to reverse. Possibly all they will need when symptoms are mild are some dietary and lifestyle modifications but if you leave it too long, medication or more serious treatments are much more likely to be required. Many of these conditions begin in adolescence and if correct support is given to these teens it reduces the likelihood that they will be reliant on medications as well as giving them the opportunity to learn better coping mechanisms that can be employed for the rest of their lives.
For those who do require medication it is important to note that many natural therapies are available that can be used in conjunction to increase efficacy, reduce side effects and possibly reduce the dosage needed. Please seek the advice of your medical practitioner for the best treatment option for your teenager.