Experts call for effective mental health for adolescents

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Funmi Ogundare

Health sector experts yesterday stressed the need for parents, teachers and caregivers to ensure effective adolescent mental health.

They made the call at the Fourth Annual Mental Wellness Conference titled “Adolescent Mental Wellness and Resilience in an Unequal World”, hosted virtually and physically by the OISA Foundation.

The conference, scheduled to commemorate World Mental Health Day, celebrated around the world on October 10, aims to intensify the conversation about the critical role mental well-being plays in the well-being of adolescents and young adults in the world. Nigeria.

They stressed the importance of having a supportive environment in family, school and in the wider community so that adolescents can live and work fruitfully, contribute to society and realize their potential.

In his remarks, the President of the Association of Psychiatrists of Nigeria (APN), Professor Taiwo Lateef Sheikh, described the period of adolescence as very crucial for developing and maintaining social and emotional habits important for well-being. mental.

He expressed concern that around 10 to 20 percent of adolescents worldwide suffer from mental health problems, but they remain undiagnosed and untreated.

According to him, “Mental health problems account for 16% of the global burden of disease and injury among people aged 10 to 19. Half of all mental health problems start at age 14, but most cases go undetected and untreated. “

Sheikh, who is also a professor of psychiatry at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, expressed concern about the consequences of not addressing adolescent mental health, saying it extends into adulthood. and can adversely affect physical and mental health; and limit the opportunities to lead a fulfilling life in adulthood.

However, he emphasized school-based mental health programs that would focus on promoting mental well-being, preventing mental health problems and providing treatment, as well as ensuring effective programs that promote the healthy social and emotional development of all children and youth.

Earlier, in her opening remarks, the president of the foundation, Ms. Olapeju Sofowora, called on all stakeholders to support the foundation in preventing mental health problems.

She said research has shown that one in four Nigerians suffers from mental health issues, adding that with the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for preventive measures, especially for adolescents, has become imperative.

“As part of our intervention, we set things in motion on mental health to help parents and caregivers. We will continue to meet with experts from the education sector to create an atmosphere conducive to discussions on mental health for the whole school community, ”she said.

Behavioral psychologist and life coach Mr. Lanre Olushola, who focused on the growing issues and challenges of youth mental health in Nigeria, observed that mental health is the leading cause of illness among young people. teenagers.

He expressed concern that young people, most of the time, complain that their parents don’t have time for them and don’t care; and that schools are too academically focused.

For society to experience a shift in mental health, he said there is a need for parents, caregivers and schools to take responsibility in creating the right environment for their children.

“Stress is their number one which is responsible for 90 percent of all illnesses. Parents and teachers are the ones that trigger this stress. We need to start promoting mental health to regulate their emotions and negatively manage their stress, ”he said.

In his remarks, the Head of Department, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Department Service Center, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, Dr Grace Ijarogbe, listed some of the behavioral issues in adolescents to include ; low mental development, rudeness, rebellion, individuality, low capacity for reflection and abstraction, excessive modesty and shyness, among others, adding in order to help them overcome these challenges, parents, schools and caregivers must study, be prepared for their developmental parameters, help them with anxiety over acceptance anywhere and be aware of their stage of life.


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