October 10th is World Mental Health Day, a day set aside to shine light onto a problem affecting countless millions of people around the world. Since 1992, educators, healthcare professionals, and others have celebrated an annual awareness program in more than 150 countries, highlighting both the devastating effects of mental illness and the help that far too many are unaware of. The social stigma too often attached to mental illness keeps countless sufferers living in the shadows, afraid to reach out for treatments that could change not only their own lives, but the lives of friends, families, and coworkers.
Around the world, those working on issues related to mental illness and well-being are encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to discuss their work. Others in the field can learn of promising new techniques and treatments and areas needing more study. The overall goal is to have excellent care available to everyone who needs it, wherever they live.
A Focus on Youth
Today’s teens and young adults grow up facing challenges never experienced by their parents and grandparents. The internet can have a profound effect on mental well-being, exemplified by the victims of cyberbullying and cyber crimes. Many young people become addicted to violent video games, with largely unknown long-term consequences for both the individual gamers and society as a whole. LGBTQ youth too often feel alone and persecuted. Suicide and substance abuse have risen to alarming heights.
The dismaying paradox is that the very group needing knowledge about dealing with mental issues is taught next to nothing about this critically important topic. For this reason, this year’s WMHDAY campaign is Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World. Healthcare professionals hope to introduce the conversation about the challenges faced by today’s youth and what is needed to enable them to live happy, healthy lives today and in the future.
The Impact on the Young
Young people are both our future and the most vulnerable and challenged group among us. The scope of the problem is much larger than many people realize.
- Worldwide, about one person in six is between 10-19 years of age
- About 50% of all issues threatening someone’s mental well-being begin by age 14 – however, most of these serious problems are both undetected and untreated
- Worldwide, depression is a leading cause of disability and illness in adolescents
- The third leading cause of death among those aged 15-19 is suicide
- Risky behaviors such as alcohol and drug abuse, unsafe sex, dangerous driving, and eating disorders can have catastrophic consequences
While many of these problems begin during the pre-teen and teen years, the consequences can be lifelong.
Mental Resilience is Key to a Successful, Happy Life
Children and youth must develop mental resilience in order to be able to cope with all the challenges they will inevitably face. Every society requires adults who are both physically and mentally healthy. This cannot happen unless more attention is paid to the mental well-being of children, teens, and young adults. In only a few short years, they will be joining the workforce, raising families, and contributing to society in countless ways. It’s the job of today’s adults to ensure today’s young people are strong and healthy, able to handle the challenges that will soon confront them.
Early Diagnosis and Treatment is Crucial
Fortunately, there is a growing recognition of the importance of helping young people build mental resilience in order to cope with the challenges of today’s world. Evidence is growing that promoting and protecting adolescent health brings benefits not just to young people, both in the short- and the long-term, but also to all of society, enabling healthy young adults to contribute throughout their careers, raise their families and benefit their communities and society as a whole.
Prevention is the ultimate goal, linked to developing a better understanding of mental issues. There should be no more stigma attached to a mental issue than to a broken leg or physical illness. Teachers, counselors, healthcare workers, parents, and others need a fuller understanding of early signs and symptoms so that effective treatment can be provided as early as possible. Untreated mental issues tend to worsen over time.
ART – An Effective Treatment for Many Psychological Disorders
Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) has proven to be an effective, evidence-based treatment for PTSD and other trauma-induced disorders. Combat veterans, for example, may experience relief from crippling symptoms such as night terrors and flashbacks in only one to five sessions.
Young people can be as severely affected by a sexual or other trauma as a combat vet is by experiences in a war zone. The benefits of ART extend beyond effective treatment for traumas. The National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP) lists Accelerated Resolution Therapy as an effective psychotherapy for not only PTSD and related traumas, but as a promising therapy for a number of psychological ailments, including stress, depression, panic attacks, sleep disorders, abuse, antisocial behaviors, and the need for greater personal resilience – problems common to many teens and young adults.
To learn more, contact ART International. World Mental Health Day is only celebrated one day each year, but the need for greater awareness of mental problems and early treatment exists every day.