Tuesday , 18 February 2020
Breaking News

This International Youth Day MIND YOUR MIND

Sarvesh Naik used to be studious. However, over a period of time he began withdrawing from everything, staying locked in his bedroom for hours together, not watching TV, not going out to play. Basically, he had lost interest in everything and often had thoughts of dying. His parents were upset with his absurd behaviour and thought he was useless and good for nothing. It was only after he was taken to a psychiatrist, who spoke to him and his parents, they realised that Sarvesh was suffering from depression. In fact, he wanted to study, but lacked the energy. With the right treatment, counselling for him and his parents, today Sarvesh is just like any other youngster enjoying his life. And he passed with good marks.
Mental health continues to be a neglected and underestimated problem in our society. People normally shy away from the word ‘mental’ thinking of it as some contagious disease. Mental health is important. It includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects the way one thinks, feels and acts as they deal with life. It also helps determine how stress is handled, inter personal relations, and choices made.
Psychiatrist and counsellor, Peter Castelinho says, “Mental health refers to a very important ability of the body, which comprises of the mental functions or the mind that one uses for everyday functioning. It includes thinking, feeling, intelligence, planning, decision making, memory, etc. Without our mind, our bodies would have no meaning and we would have no personality.”
While many youth are physically and emotionally healthy, about 12.5 per cent adolescents suffer some one or the other form of mental health issues according to World Health Organisation (WHO) (ie 1 out of 8 adolescents). This could be associated with severe role impairment and/or distress. It can also contribute to increased likelihood of impairment and disability.
Mental health conditions during adolescences and young adulthood can have a negative impact on youth development and their social interactions. There are a number of factors which pose a threat to youngsters between ages 12 and 25. Memories of a traumatic childhood including a death of a parent or child abuse can give rise to mental health issues. There are also certain youth, like the homeless, orphans or those involved in juvenile crimes, who are at risk of mental-health conditions.
“Today young people have to deal with a lot more pressures and expectations many of which are unrealistic. The simplicity of life is diminishing and this is also one of the reasons for mental health issues among youth”, he points out. Castelinho believes that a lot of the behavioural and scholastic problems faced by young people are a direct consequence of mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), learning disorders, conduct disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder , psychosis, addictions, etc, and not just plain naughtiness or disinterest.
“My daughter used to constantly be angry and upset with me and my husband. She blamed us for not understanding her”, says Catherine. Upon taking her to a counsellor, it was found that the girl had a serious problem. Her symptoms manifested thus. While combing her hair she would use eight or multiple of eight stokes. If not she wouldn’t feel comfortable and would start all over again. That was not all. She used to have a bath for two long hours and used to wash her hands frequently. Upon consultation and treatment she slowly realised that she was her own enemy and it was not her parents.
The first step Castelinho says is to recognise that there is a problem, “Any significant changes in behaviour need to be assessed.” Talking to a teacher, counsellor or a psychiatrist can help. Very often faulty thinking patterns are the culprit, which can deviate thought process. This can be corrected effectively. A change in lifestyle sometimes helps overcome the problem.  However, there are also some cases wherein medical treatment might be necessary.
But why wait for the problem to take control of the person when it can be easily tackled in the correct manner? This is where the role of the family is important. Families need to spend quality time with each other. This can help in bonding and subsequently builds trust, security and self esteem in the growing adult, which is the most important preventive factor.
Castelinho citing an example of one of his young patients says, “Many a times parents keep blaming children, calling them naughty and playful. Little do they realise that their child is suffering from ADHD because of which actually cannot sit down in one place.” The problem needs to be dealt with patience.
Early recognition and intervention helps in catching the problem in its infancy which means treatment outcomes are better. Family awareness and early identification are often the first steps to effective treatment for children and youth with mental health disorders. It’s easy to judge when a child has a fever. But a child›s mental health is different and can be complex to understand. It can be difficult to distinguish between ‹normal› problems that all children and adolescents experience from time to time and behaviour that may be indicative of a mental health disorder.
The problem of mental health disorders among youth as seen and understood today is still only the tip of the iceberg. To promote mental health there is a need to create living conditions and environment which support mental health and allows youngsters to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Since it is recognised that in India initial symptoms of many mental disorders are noticed at an early age, India needs to aim at improving child development with early childhood interventions like preschool psychosocial activities which include skills to build negotiation, conflict resolution, cooperation and empathy, nutritional and psychosocial help to build a healthy community. Another key is to strengthen the treatment of mental disorders at the level of primary health care. Besides, there is an urgent need for simple, easily available diagnostic tests and low cost treatment to provide better primary health care.

Check Also

Economist Vivek Kaul to discuss India’s economy

The International Centre Goa (ICG) is organising a lecture on ‘Growth Interrupted (And How India’s …