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E-Pao! Essays - Adolescent and mental health

Adolescent and mental health

By Dr Linthoi Akoijam/The Sangai Express *



Adolescence is always a confusing stage for everyone - adolescents themselves and the adults around them like parents, teachers etc. There are various things happening around this stage. There are physical and hormonal changes like physical growth in height and weight and secondary sexual characteristics like menarche, hair growth etc., changes in the way of thinking and emotions, relationship with friends, and day today hassles with parents. Further, this is a stage where there is tremendous amount of pressure from friends and sometimes adolescents have difficulty in being assertive, in saying 'No' to their friends for fear of being rejected.

The adolescents in Manipur, in particular, because of the instability in the social situation and other social factors, with various disruptions in their normal day-to-day functioning have added stressors in their lives. All these factors interact with one another and play an important role in the healthy development of an individual. These can be quite a frustrating time for the teenagers, though some -are effectively handling the demands and pressures placed on them from various sources, while others have some amount of difficulty. They further have an impact in the adolescents' emotions and thinking, thus affecting the day-to-day functioning, leading to impairment in their school work, concentration, leading to more pressures from parents and teachers, thus creating a vicious circle.

Mental health involves continues adjustment rather than a static condition and it therefore is a progressive goal. It is an ability to cope with the present and in all likelihood to adjust satisfactorily in the future. It involves physical, mental, and emotional phases of adjusting behaviour as well as habits of work and attitudes towards situations and obstacles. Hence, mental health is a point of view one takes of all phases of living.

The concept also includes a Social phase - 'Socially considerate behaviour', satisfaction with 'social order', and contribution to society. Mental health is not simply absence of disease, but is a process of optimum functioning and maximum self-realization. For those who are ill, it is a matter of getting well, for those who are "getting along" it is a matter of improvement and for those who are robust; it is a matter of maintaining and continuing achievement.

Empowerment of adolescent is very essential in today's context in Manipur. However, because of lack of trained professionals, there is a high need to focus on preventive interventions rather than psychotherapeutic interventions, though ideally it should go hand in hand. Researches have shown that adolescent problems should not be taken lightly thinking that it will dissipate with time.

Studies have also shown that if the minor problems are not intervened, the problems may escalate and can become serious later affecting the individual, family and society at large. Thus, it is very important to take initiatives in preventive interventions through awareness of the public, education of the masses about the types of problem faced by children and adolescents and what can then be done for these problems.

In this regard, as a humble attempt, a workshop is being organised titled "Managing anger/frustration", for adolescents aged 13-18 years on 28th November at Hotel Excellency, in the hope that even if it benefits a few, it will be a rewarding effort. This does not mean that one does not have abilities to handle anger effectively. Anger is not a sin, madness, or weakness.

It is a natural human emotion. However, sometimes, when anger remains un-controlled and persists for a long time, it can lead to aggression and various negative consequences like difficulty in concentration, fights, and other negative emotions which can impede the development of the adolescent. This workshop aims to enhance the abilities to handle anger effectively so that further problems can be prevented, making the adolescents have "more control over anger" rather than "Anger Controlling You". There is no fee charged for the workshop.




The writer is currently working as a Clinical Psychologist, Child & Adolescent Mental Health, Bradford District Care Trust, United Kingdom
This article was webcasted on 1st December 2004.

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