What is health?
“A state of (complete) physical, mental and social well being and not just the absence of disease or infirmity.”
Hence, it is an important resource.
What is Mental health?
“The emotional and spiritual resilience which allows us to enjoy life and survive pain, disappointment and sadness. It is a positive sense of wellbeing and an underlying belief in our own, and other’s dignity and worth.”
Another priceless resource.
It is often during adolescence that mental illnesses presents. The young are reluctant to seek help because they worry about what others will think of them. They may not even realise that they need help. They might feel confused and distressed about how they think and feel.
For their families, separating normal adolescent behaviour from mental health problems may be very difficult, further delaying diagnosis. Being secretive as they develop independence, withdrawal, experimenting with drugs and alcohol, changing eating habits, mood swings, argumentative behaviour and struggling with school are not necessarily signs of an illness but they could be.
In the last 25 years the incidence of mental illness in the young has gone up by as much as 70%.
Why is this happening?
Here are a few differences that come to mind. 25 years ago:
- Bonds between members of a community were stronger.
- There were more communities one could belong to.
- Families stayed together or near each other.
- Most families had two or more children whereas now many have one child.
- Parents worked but not as many hours as they do now.
- The pressure for both parents to work was not as high as it is now.
- Everyday life was not dominated by screens of one kind or another.
- Children could have the luxury of solitude. It is near impossible now.
- Sex and violence in media were under some control.
- Young people could make career choices based on who they were.
- Adult life didn’t start with a big loan – the university or college fees!
- Young people didn’t feel as insecure about their futures as they do now.
- There were more open spaces.
- Extremes of wealth were not so visible.
In a nutshell, there was more connectedness amongst people and between nature and people. Perhaps, just as we have depleted the resources of the planet so too we have depleted our personal resources. The disequilibrium we have created around us seems to be reflected within us.