The youth of today, especially adolescents, are inundated by stress from different directions, made much worse by the socio-economic uncertainties brought about by the corona virus pandemic. It’s quite an understatement to say there’s a need to improve the health, development, safety and wellbeing of adolescents and young adults (AYAs). Truly, they need help NOW more than ever.
Young people, from 12-24 years old, make up a fifth of the Australian population –where 28% of all households contain a young person.*
Behavior patterns established during this developmental phase help shape their current health situation and determine their tendency to develop chronic diseases in adulthood.
Generally, adolescence and young adulthood are healthy times of life, but critical social and health problems begin OR peak during these years. Crucial health issues confronting the youth include:
Academic problems (e.g. dropping out of school)
Nutrition conditions & weight issues
Sexually transmitted infections (like HIV, human immunodeficiency virus)
Motor vehicle collisions
Because adolescents and young adults (AYAs) are in a developmental transition, they’re particularly sensitive to influences from their social environment –which can either support or threaten their health and wellbeing. Influences come from families, friends/peers, schools, and neighborhoods. Societal clues/policies, like media messages and racism, can have the same impact. Those with chronic health conditions may face challenges as they shift from the child- to the adult-healthcare system (such as alteration in their insurance coverage and the decrease in attention to their developmental needs). Boosting the positive development of the youth eases them into healthy behaviors and facilitates a productive and healthy adulthood.
Why is Health of Adolescents & Young Adults Important?
While the definition of ‘adolescent’ may differ from culture to culture, it is generally considered as the period between childhood and adulthood where a critical transition takes place.
According to Geldard and Geldard (2006), adolescence is a time in a person’s life where they shift from dependency on their parents to autonomy, independence, and maturity. The young individual starts to move from the family group (as their major social structure) to the peer group (which gains greater space/influence and becomes greatly appealing) –which eventually leads to the young person standing alone as an adult. The major changes happening in this transition stage include (and intrinsically bring with it) biological, psychological, cognitive, social, spiritual, moral, and economic challenges –all being daunting and exciting.
That said, there are significant discrepancies in outcomes of this transition among racial/ethnic groups. Young people with African and Latino descent (compared to Caucasians or those of Asian descent), AND especially those living in poverty, generally experience worse outcomes in various areas, like teen/unintended pregnancy, obesity and educational achievement.
Health problems in youth, which are preventable, encompass long-term costs of adult chronic diseases resulting from behaviors that start during adolescence/youth.
To help AYAs experience healthy development and transition, a number of effective programs can be offered and made available to them, such as: access to healthcare; violence prevention; delinquency prevention; mental health & substance use intervention; alcohol, tobacco and illicit drug use prevention and teen pregnancy prevention.
Understanding Youth Health & the Factors Involved
The primary causes of illness and death among the youth are, in large part, preventable and the health outcomes from this transition stage are usually linked to various social-behavioral factors:
Adolescents who are bonded with a caring adult and have good communication are least likely to get involved in risky behaviors, while parents who are involved with their adolescents’ activities create a safe environment for them to seek and try opportunities. However, children whose families are living in poor conditions have poorer health status with least access to healthcare services.
Adolescents and youth who grow up in distressed neighborhoods and living in poverty are at higher risk for exposure to neglect, violence, and various negative outcomes (e.g. delinquency and risky sexual behaviors).
An adolescent’s health and academic achievement are closely linked. Healthy students are better learners, and so, academic success/achievement is a strong predictor of overall health in adulthood. Proficient school performance is linked to lower rate of risky behaviors (and higher rate of healthy behaviors). The quality of school environment also impacts an adolescent’s attendance, social relationships, interest in learning, academic achievement, likelihood of graduation, mental health, and overall behavior.
Young people who are exposed to un-filtered media content that include smoking, drinking, and violence are at risk for adopting these behaviors. And, although social media allows young people access to better communication, entertainment, and education, it also increases their exposure to cyberbullying, “sexting”, and consequently, depression.
Adolescence and young adulthood is a period extending over a sizable part of a person’s life. Each individual experiences growth and change at varying rates –with some moving through adolescence smoothly. Some adolescents have supportive and caring families, while some find themselves neglected (or feeling alone) because of various factors. The mental health of the youth profoundly impacts their physical health, academic standing, and overall wellbeing. If you (or a family friend) is struggling with an adolescent-related problem, Jarvis Hypnotherapy offers help and intervention program customized to your need. Positive youth development interventions are essential processes that provide young people with the support, relationships, resources, experiences, and opportunities they need to become thriving and happy adults.
This transitional stage is indeed a strong predictor of outcomes in adulthood, making adolescence a hugely critical milestone in a person’s life. Make Jarvis Hypnotherapy a part of your adolescent’s positive development experience.