Half of all mental illnesses begin at an adolescent age, before the age of 14, but most cases go undetected and untreated, the World Health Organisation, has said.
The global health organisation said this in a report titled, ‘Coming of age: Adolescent health’ to mark the World Mental Health Day commemorated on Wednesday.
Worldwide, it is estimated that one in five adolescents experience mental health challenges, though most remain under-diagnosed and untreated.
WHO is focusing on the psychological well-being of young people aged 10 to 14, to stave off conditions that can impact their lives deep into adulthood.
Dr. Tarun Dua, mental health expert at WHO explained: “Half of mental health disorders arise before the age of 14.
“If these are left untreated, they extend into adult life, thus impacting educational attainment, employment, relationships or even parenting.”
According to WHO, depression is one of the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents and suicide is the second leading cause of deaths among 15 to 29 year-olds.
The harmful use of alcohol and illicit drugs among adolescents is a major issue in many countries and can lead to self-destructive behaviours such as unsafe sex or dangerous driving.
Eating disorders are also of concern, the global health agency warned.
WHO noted that “evidence is growing that promoting and protecting adolescent mental health benefits not just adolescents’ health, in the short and the long-term.
“It also promotes economies and society as a whole, with healthy young adults able to make greater contributions to the workforce, their families and communities.”
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