By Your Call Publishing | ,

Castle Medical Centre - April/May 24

Teenagers and Mental Health

In 2023 about 1 in 5 children aged 8-20 years were deemed to have a mental disorder, this is an increase of 60% since 2017. Family difficulties, bullying, abuse in any form, and family history are major causes, but social media has been increasingly deemed as a significant cause of mental health disorders in our young adults. More than 80% of young adults agree that the Covid pandemic worsened mental health.

Most parents underestimate the problems, risky behaviour and inappropriate experiences their children have had. 

One of our teenage patients has written the following article on how adults, parents, teachers and guardians can help them:  

The rates of depression in teenagers have doubled between 2012-2019 and is still increasing. Someone you know may be depressed. Therefore, it is crucial to know how you can help your friend/child/cousin, etc and what may be causing it.

Be there for them

Depression is much harder to cope with when alone. Humans are social creatures who have faced problems together since the beginning and depression is such a problem that needs to be tackled together, not individually. It is imperative that you constantly check up on your loved one because the biggest blunder you can make is leaving them to be lonely, instead introduce yourself as being a haven for them, a person they can turn to and talk to, as “opening up” is one of the most effective ways of tackling depression.

Help them reduce their screen time

Although not all cases of teenage depression are caused by social media, it is a “prime culprit” for many teenagers. The teenage age group is one of the biggest consumers of social media, they watch intense things like death, drugs, love, sex, violence and everything in between. Whilst not all aspects of social media are bad, some aspects are damaging.

There is reason to believe social media is a catalyst for depression through means such as cyberbullying and excessive exposure to content. Excessive exposure to content is damaging as it can cause too much dopamine in parts of the brain which can cause severe addiction eventually leading to depression.

In general, social media may have negative impacts as it invokes “comparisons”. People like to compare themselves with their favourite creator, many popular content creators advertise a lavish (often superficial) perfect life, and these subconscious comparisons may lead to dismay and despair in our life. Some people may even resort to quick ineffective means to try to reach an unreachable point, and when they fail, they become unfortunately depressed.

Instead of watching them chase these near impossible ideals, help them find their true passion through forms such as sport, art, music and literature because they all help alleviate depression. Maybe get them into gardening because to “plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow”.

Please contact your GP if your teenager or yourself, as parents, need support.

The crisis helpline is available 24/7 on 0808 196 6798 (option 2).

Dr Suparna Behura
Partner and Trainer