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Jodie Dennie: World Mental Health Day

Jodie Dennie: World Mental Health Day

Young people and mental health in a changing world

Queen's Young Leader, Jodie Dennie, is the creator of the Mind Matters St Vincent and the Grenadines campaign. This World Mental Health Day, she explains why mental health is such an important issue for young people.

World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year and aims to educate persons by raising awareness of mental health worldwide.

This year’s theme is “Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World”. With over 60% of persons aged 29 and under making up the Commonwealth, this theme is appropriate to focus on the impact mental health on youths in the 21st century.

Life changes

People go through many changes in life. When we’re young, this ranges from puberty, new schools, getting a job, leaving home and learning to be independent.

As straight forward as that seems, it is difficult for many. Long before the 21st century, many persons have struggled with these changes.

Add the age of technological advancement to the mix and the struggle becomes even more real.

Peer pressure through technology

While technology has been very beneficial, 24-hour access to online apps – where peers give the impression that their life is constantly moving upwards – creates an unnecessary added pressure to do the same while providing posts of proof.

It also births self-doubt in your ability when life does not turn out like what is posted by such peers.

Smiling emoji cushions peeping out of a box

Mental illness in young people

Living in environments of conflicts, natural disasters and epidemics have a huge negative effect on adolescents. These situations expose young people to mental distress and illness.

With half of all mental illness beginning by age 14, most cases go undetected and untreated while going through changes in their life. As a result, many youths experience depression and turn to harmful use of alcohol and substance abuse to soothe themselves, because they are do not know what they are going through and how they can seek help.

This can lead to high – risk actions like unprotected sex and drunk driving. Those who grow tired of their behaviour and life in general seek to end it by committing suicide, the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds.

The question is: how can young people take action against mental illness?

Graffiti smiley face on concrete

Graffiti smiley face on concrete. Image credit: Nathan Dumlao

Take action against mental illness

Education

Better understanding about mental health is gained by seeking knowledge about it. Not only does it help in detecting signs of mental illness, it highlights screening, treatments and helps persons to understand what those affected go through.

Self-care

Set aside time to do things that you enjoy and live in the moment.

Involve family and friends to make up for time a part and create a stronger bond while making lasting memories.

Sustenance

Eat healthy, meditate and exercise regularly.

Participate in activities that can be used as an outlet to express yourself and release tension as a way to improve and sustain your mental health.

Support system

Develop relationships with persons who want the best for you and are there for you – for example, parents, friends, and others.

To maintain such relationships, you must return the favour!

Be kind

You never know what someone is going through and the positive effect your thoughtful words will have on their outlook in life.

Challenges are not meant to be easy, but by using these tips and adding to them, you will better be able to handle what comes your way in life.

Happy World Mental Health Day!