Youth below 25 most vulnerable to mental health problems: Expert
World Psychiatry Association president Dr Afzal Javed emphasised the need to discuss mental well-being on larger platforms
As many as 75% of people with mental illnesses begin experiencing symptoms before the age 25, with 50% battling the same as early as 15, World Psychiatry Association president Dr Afzal Javed said during the Diamond Jubilee International Conference on Mental Health 2023 at Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER).
Javed, who noted that mental illnesses often go unnoticed, emphasised the need to discuss mental well-being on larger platforms. He said mental illnesses are treatable and manageable, underlining the importance of understanding the root causes of these conditions, adding that prevention is more effective than treatment.
Highlighting bullying in school-college and an unfavourable family environment as significant factors on adolescent’s behaviour, he said the same can push youngsters to drug addiction, maladaptive behaviour in males, aggression, parental conflicts, and overall family unrest.
“One in four individuals experiences mental health challenges, with depression and anxiety being the most prevalent. These conditions can be categorised into three aspects: symptoms, emotions, and syndromes. Seeking professional help is crucial when a mental condition progresses to the syndrome stage,” Javed said.
The expert also emphasised the importance of consulting a mental health professional when an individual’s work, family dynamics, or academic performance is being negatively impacted by mental challenges.
“There is a significant rise in mental health cases among adolescents and young people post-Covid. With schools closed and a shift of everything to mobile devices and the internet, this transition also contributed to increased mobile addiction,” Javed added.
Associate professor at PGIMER’s department of psychiatry Dr Akhilesh Sharma, meanwhile, said mental well-being of adolescents can be affected by factors such as increased competition, reduced opportunities, and a tendency to opt for traditional courses which may lead to suicides.
Addressing the Indian scenario in particular, Sharma highlighted that there was intense academic competition, which coupled with limited opportunities, adversely affects the youth.
Sharma elaborated on the efforts being made to improve mental well-being of adolescents and children, saying, “One of these is focused on school mental health, while the other revolves around clinical data analysis.”