- Young people go through a variety of life challenges that predispose them to stress and mental health issues.
- In school, the pressure to do well and study hard to pass exams can take a toll on most teens.
- The emotional and physical changes that take place in their bodies during puberty can also be overwhelming and disturbing for many young people.
Young people go through a variety of life challenges that predispose them to stress and mental health issues.
In school, the pressure to do well and study hard to pass exams can take a toll on most teens.
The emotional and physical changes that take place in their bodies during puberty can also be overwhelming and disturbing for many young people.
During this stage, they may also be struggling with social relationships as they develop an attraction to the opposite sex or find it difficult to fit in to gain approval and be seen as “cool” by their peers. .
Sometimes changes in schools or transitions to higher education institutions can cause anxiety and stress when young people try to settle in new environments.
Bullying or violence at school can also take its toll on young people and have a negative impact on them.
“It’s no wonder people keep saying it’s hard work being a youngster. They usually have so much to do in their lives as they struggle to understand each other and find their place in society, ”says Mary, a Nairobi-based mother of two.
“As a parent, you are always concerned about what young people are going through. You just want to support them as much as possible so that they don’t slide into depression or other mental health issues as they grapple with life’s issues and challenges.
Parents can help teens or teens cope effectively with stress by taking the time to listen to them so that they feel understood and loved.
They can also boost their self-esteem by encouraging them to think positively about themselves, celebrate accomplishments, and view failures as opportunities for growth or improvement in life.
“It keeps them from feeling down, thinking other people are better than them, or seeing themselves as failures in life whenever things don’t go as planned,” says Mary.
She also encourages her children to engage in daily physical activities or exercises to let off steam and feel calmer.
If stressful emotions and depressed moods exist for long periods of time, health experts recommend having the child seen by a psychologist or psychiatrist for further assistance or care.
Sleep, which many people take for granted, also plays an important role in stress management in young people.
A new study published in the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health Journal reminds parents of the importance of teens getting enough sleep, warning them that insufficient sleep can be harmful to their mental health.
The research, which was conducted by scientists at the University of South Australia, notes that while sleep is intrinsically linked to mental health, it is often overlooked by health practitioners as a contributing factor.
According to Dr. Alex Agostini, lead author of the study, parents and physicians should be aware of the two-way relationship between sleep and mental health, especially during adolescence.
“Getting enough sleep is important to all of us. It helps our physical and mental health, strengthens our immunity and allows us to function well on a daily basis, ”he notes.
“But for teens, sleep is especially critical as they are at an age where they are going through a whole host of physical, social and developmental changes, all of which depend on getting enough sleep.”
Based on research, Dr Agostini notes that teens need at least eight hours of sleep every night.
“Without it, they are less able to cope with stressors, such as bullying or social pressure, and are at risk of developing behavioral problems, as well as anxiety and depression.”
He says if sleep drops to less than six hours a night, research shows teens are twice as likely to engage in risky behaviors such as reckless driving, use of marijuana, alcohol or tobacco. , risky sexual behavior and other aggressive or harmful activities.
Half of all mental health problems start at age 14, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), but most cases go undetected and untreated.
the biggest delinquents
Ensuring that children get enough sleep and rest can go a long way in preventing illness or helping those affected to manage associated symptoms effectively.
Study co-author Dr. Stephanie Centofanti says that while many factors contribute to late bedtime in teens, technology is one of the biggest offenders.
“Teenagers spend a lot of time on devices. Whether it’s texting friends, playing games, or watching videos, using technology late at night is one of the most common disruptors of good sleep. . Overuse of technology can also contribute to mental health issues that can increase anxiety, ”she says.
“Not only can the use of technology make us anxious and awake, but the blue light emitted by the technology inhibits the production of the sleep hormone melatonin to delay the natural onset of sleep. adolescents already have a biological tendency to want to stay up late and sleep in the morning.
“To make a real difference to adolescent mental health, Dr. Centofanti notes that parents and physicians need to understand how sleep can affect adolescent mental health.”