Adolescents’ Mental Health: Care to Remove the Barrier?

Adolescence (aged 10 to 19 years) is a crucial time of life where one has to go through different phases of physical, emotional, and social changes that can influence young people prone to mental health conditions, including exposure to poverty and abuse or violence. Child and adolescent mental health disorders have become an important public health concern internationally. An estimated report by the WHO has indicated that 16% of the worldwide disease and injury burden is due to mental problems in individuals aged 10 to 19 years. The most frequent mental disorders among teenagers are depression and anxiety.  


Despite knowing the importance of mental issues in other countries there is a high prevalence in Bangladesh regarding depression and anxiety among adolescents. Surprisingly, there are not even sufficient case studies for any mental health concerns in Bangladesh because of the negligence of teenagers’ psychological conditions. In Bangladesh, the prevalence rate of mental illness is already high and the COVID-19 epidemic is creating an extra harmful influence on youth mental health. A study presents (May 2021) that in this pandemic the rate of depression, anxiety and stress rises from 46.92% to 70.1%, which means that students are in tremendous danger for psychological distress. The sudden disruption of normal life, restriction on social gatherings, online schools, spending too much time on gadgets such as laptops, TV, mobile phones, etc. is causing negative impacts on teenagers such as they are continuously having fear of not leading a normal life anymore. These are also the main reasons for their behavioural change. A cross-sectional survey (2021) of 330 teenage students shows that almost all of them think that they are now incapable of making their own decisions about the future due to the severe lockdown. Due to the pandemic, some even lost their part-time jobs and spent most of their time at home. As a result, they are close to seeing the financial crisis of the family and lose concentration on studies too. Thus, the fear of being a burden to the family is continuously tormenting their mental health which eventually creates suicidal tendencies among adolescents. One survey published in March 2021 indicated that since March 2020, 14,436 persons have killed their own lives in Bangladesh, more than 70% from coronavirus in this period. The study found 49% of victims of suicide to be between the ages of 15 and 30. A clinical psychologist at the Community empowerment program of BRAC, Rifat Sharmin, told in an interview that (April 2021) even after such suicidal cases of teenagers, families do not like to reveal their own difficulties of emotional and mental problems, because they are afraid of being judged by society. 

The current epidemic is something we all have to patiently wait and take precautions until we see a ray of hope. However, in order to survive, we have to take care of our mental health too. Teenagers are very delicate when it comes to expressing their thoughts. They need help. From specialists, from people. Because depression and anxiety are like silent killers. It slowly kills mental stability and eventually leads to something unimaginable. Before getting too late it needs proper diagnosis and clinical treatments. But in this era too people in Bangladesh still feel uneasy to open up about their mental issues. It needs to be normalized. Instead of constructing specialized hospitals, we need to extend the mental health facility to regular hospitals, because individuals feel uncomfortable in specialist mental hospitals that fear stigmatization. In order that people may be treated in general hospitals, all government hospitals should be run by mental health services. By this, if the systemic approach can become a strength, we can help our youth, our teens. 

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