Reworked by: Jamie Fernandez, B.Sc. in Genetics, Content Specialist
On March 2nd, we observe World Teen Mental Wellness day. This day provides an opportunity to educate and destigmatize the issues that so many young people suffer from.
The prevalence of mental health issues in adolescence varies by country and region, but overall, it is a significant problem affecting a large number of young people around the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 10-20% of children and adolescents worldwide experience mental disorders.
Some of the most common mental health issues affecting adolescents include depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Approximately one in five teenagers experience symptoms of depression during adolescence.
It's important to note that mental health issues are often underreported and undertreated in adolescents due to social stigma, lack of awareness, and limited access to mental health services. Therefore, it's essential to promote early detection and intervention to improve outcomes for adolescents with mental health problems.
The causes of mental illness in teens are complex and multifactorial, and it is often difficult to determine the exact cause of a particular mental illness. However, some of the most common causes and risk factors include:
- Genetics: Mental illness can run in families, and certain genetic variations can increase the risk of developing mental illness.
- Environmental factors: Traumatic life events, such as abuse, neglect, or loss of a loved one, can increase the risk of developing mental illness. Other environmental factors, such as exposure to toxins, can also play a role.
- Brain chemistry: Imbalances in brain chemicals, such as serotonin, dopamine, or norepinephrine, can contribute to the development of mental illness.
- Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes during puberty can contribute to the development of mental illness in teens, particularly in the case of mood disorders such as depression.
- Substance abuse: Substance abuse can increase the risk of developing mental illness and can also worsen symptoms in people who already have a mental illness.
- Social and academic pressures: Teens may experience significant social and academic pressures, such as bullying, academic performance expectations, or social media influences, which can contribute to the development of mental illness.
It's important to note that mental illness is often caused by a combination of these factors and that not everyone who experiences these risk factors will develop a mental illness. Nevertheless, by understanding the causes and risk factors of mental illness in teens, we can help prevent or manage these conditions more effectively.
Of course, one of the most important factors to consider is what can be done to help those who suffer from mental illness. Several things can be done to support teens with mental health issues:
- Provide a supportive environment: Encourage open communication and create a supportive and non-judgmental environment where the teen feels comfortable discussing their thoughts and feelings.
- Encourage professional help: If a teen is struggling with mental health issues, encourage them to seek professional help from a qualified mental health professional. This can include therapy, counseling, medication, or a combination of these approaches.
- Educate and raise awareness: Educate yourself and others about mental health issues affecting teens. Raising awareness can help reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and encourage teens to seek help when they need it.
- Foster healthy habits: Encourage the teen to engage in healthy habits, such as regular exercise, a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep. These habits can help improve overall mental health and well-being.
- Create a safety plan: If the teen is experiencing suicidal thoughts, create a safety plan with them and make sure they know what to do and who to contact in case of an emergency.
- Involve the family: Involve the family in the teen's mental health care, and encourage them to be supportive and involved in the teen's treatment plan.
- Provide ongoing support: Mental health issues can be ongoing, and it's important to provide ongoing support to the teen even after treatment has ended. This can include regular check-ins, continued therapy, or support groups.
Remember, supporting teens with mental health issues is a collaborative effort that involves parents, teachers, mental health professionals, and the community. By working together, we can help teens get the help they need and improve their overall well-being.
How can BioCertica help?
You have probably seen that BioCertica has brought pharmacogenetic testing to the market. This genetic test can be extremely beneficial to someone taking medication to treat their mental illness as it helps guide you to the most effective medication while minimizing your risk of side effects according to your genetics. To learn more about this testing, please read our pharmacogenomics articles.