“Youths are like butterflies. They go through a transition period that is full of potential, yet fragile,” past WHO Regional Director, Shigeru Omi, said during the observation of World Mental Health Day on October 20th.
“They need nurturing and care, and safe and supportive environment to grow and develop.
“It is my opinion that it is like the colours of the butterflies’ wings, our youths too are ‘colourful’, they have boundless energy, ideas, enthusiasm, ambitions and potential. They are without doubt important assets and resources; they are our future and our hope.”
Dr. Uma Ambi from the PNG Psychiatric Association Team said adolescence and the early years of adulthood are a time of life when many changes occur, for example changing schools, leaving home and starting university or a new job.
“For many, these are exciting times. They can also be times of stress and apprehension however. In some cases, if not recognised and managed, these feelings can lead to mental illness.
“The expanding use of online technologies, while undoubtedly bringing many benefits, can also bring additional pressures, as connectivity to virtual networks at any time of the day and night grows.
“Many adolescents are also living in areas affected by humanitarian emergencies such as conflicts, natural disasters and epidemics. Young people living in situations such as these are particularly vulnerable to mental distress and illness (WHO 2018).”
She said World Health Organisation, in recognising the situation, has asserted that half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14, but most cases go undetected and untreated.
In terms of the burden of the disease among adolescents, depression is the third leading cause. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds.
Harmful use of alcohol and illicit drugs among adolescents is a major issue in many countries and can lead to risky behaviour such as unsafe sex or dangerous driving. Eating disorders are also of concern.
Dr Ambi says healthy youths are highly productive thus the burden in society will be reduced.
(Caribbean News Service)