Essay: Mental health guidance for children and teens

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  • Mental health guidance for children and teens
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One in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide

Below are some common mental illnesses that affect children and teens: Anxiety disorders are the most common illness to affect children and youth. About 6% of kids experience an anxiety disorder at some point. … Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects just under 5% of BC children at any given time.
Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year. Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S.—9.8 million, or 4.0%—experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.
Nurturing young minds is what the essence of a “COUNTRY’S FUTURE”. Here the word “nurturing” has a wider understanding apart from academic performance. Building a youth mind towards not only having a successful career but also towards a healthy, mindful and a good human being. We have example of North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Un, whose destructive mind has put the whole region into fear and uncertainty of peace. WE have seen in history how Adolf Hitler has destroyed the whole world due to his obsession for power.
Many examples like above compel us to give a very serious thought about the mental health of children’s and off course the student.
Living in today’s time has necessitated for giving a firm ground for mental development of the child.

Today’s youngsters are burdened with the stress in following areas:

1. School pressure
2. Peer pressure
3. Performance in academics
4. Performance in extracurricular activities
5. Social pressure
6. meeting and working with new people
7. exams, deadlines for written work or presentations
8. managing your own finances
9. coping with homesickness
10. balancing the demands of studying with other commitments, such as caring responsibilities or work
11. maintaining relationships with family and old friends
12. Leaving home, finding new housing and living with new people.

These are few areas where we have to work to develop a student to be able to cope up with the challenging life our society throw before the youngsters.

Our joint aims is to lend support to student and provides useful tips and guidance, whether they are experiencing mental health problems or have done in the past, or whether you would just like more information on how to keep yourself healthy and well in your new student life.
Studying is likely to bring a number of changes to your life. It can be enjoyable and interesting, but it can also be challenging.
Every student must be attended cohesively to help make Student life full of new and exciting experiences
Every student must be taught to share the incidents of life or what is going on. It is important for the parents to take the time to know the child’s emotional well-being and thereby helping him/her to look after oneself to cope with the changes in lifestyle.

Some important areas to focus on are:

• Managing stress
• Looking after your physical health
• Coping in an alcohol or drugs culture

Managing stress

You might feel like there is a lot of pressure to do well academically, as well as pressure to be sociable. In particular, mature students often say that they feel particulalry under stress if they are struggling financially and they have invested money in the course as part of a career change, which can create extra pressure to do well.

Try to build up strategies to manage stress before it gets too much, so it’s easier to respond to additional pressure – for example, around exam times.

• Try out some mindfulness exercises. There is a lot of evidence to suggest these can be really helpful, especially for managing stress.
• Try using a planner. This can help to keep track of deadlines and key commitments and organise your study.
• Take time out to relax. Getting away from your desk, even for short periods of time, can help keep you calm.
• Keep an eye on social commitments to avoid overloading your schedule around deadlines and exams.
• Try online support and apps. There are lots of apps and websites available that can help you to manage your stress levels, such as those offering a daily meditation or mindfulness practice

Looking after your physical health

Looking after your physical health will help you stay healthy and maintain concentration to study well.

• Get good sleep. If you’re tired, your worries can get blown out of proportion. Getting into a regular sleep routine can help you stay on top of student life.
• Eat a healthy diet. Eating a balanced and nutritious diet can help you feel well and think clearly.
• Exercise regularly. Keeping active can help you improve your mental health. Even gentle exercise, like yoga or swimming, can help you relax and manage stress

Tiredness is one of the biggest problems with the student lifestyle and it can contribute significantly to my mood. I feel more emotional and less capable when I am tired.

You may face additional struggles looking after your diet and exercise if you have eating problems or a diagnosed eating disorder.

Coping in an alcohol or drugs culture

While alcohol is often associated with the student lifestyle, you don’t have to drink if you don’t want to. Students’ Unions and student-led groups offer a range of social events and activities that are alcohol free. Remember:

• Alcohol can worsen depression and cause other health problems.
• Try to ensure you have some days without drinking.
• Be careful if you are taking medication, as it’s usually recommended not to drink or to limit the amount you do drink, while taking it.
• Having a friend around when you are out, or establishing a buddy system, can help to keep you safe when you are drinking or engaged in drug use.
• Don’t accept drinks from someone you don’t know and always keep your drinks with you to help avoid your drink being spiked (with drugs or alcohol).

Illegal drugs can also have a serious impact on your mental health.

Through the ages, great thinkers have pondered the importance of keeping things on an even keel—be it the yin and yang of ancient Chinese philosophy, Aristotle’s Golden Mean, or contemporary society’s strive for work-life balance. All refer to the search for that middle ground that creates a healthy mind.
For college students, particularly working adults, the idea that any middle ground exists in a schedule jammed with classes, term papers, and tests draws an immediate eye roll.
One scholarly report on the subject concluded that students who work 10 to 19 hours a week perform better academically than their peers who don’t work at all.
Those findings beg the question of how to maintain peak academic performance when your own life involves working far longer than that, and especially when compounded with family obligations. Investing time to exercise your mind pays dividends in concentration, creativity, and productivity. Delve into the tips below to learn how to stay sharp in the face of academic, professional, and family demands.

Exercise your brain

Like a muscle, the more you use your brain, the healthier and stronger it gets. While college students might feel that their brains are stretched to the max already, taking a few minutes a day can push past those internal obstacles.

Even something simple, like starting the morning with a crossword puzzle or Sudoku, is a fun and challenging way to limber up mentally. The next time you’re in a long check-out line, take a quick glance at your surroundings, then close your eyes briefly and see what you can recall. How did you do? You’ll be amazed at how much better you become with a little practice, plus you’ll be distracted from the hassle of waiting in line. A less-stressed brain always performs better.

Power naps

A certain level of sleep deprivation is unavoidable in college, but you can revive yourself in a relatively short amount of time. Experts say a 20-minute power nap is the optimal amount, though some adherents say 5 to 10 minutes will do. Even if you don’t literally fall asleep, the temporary state of mindlessness contributes toward clearing mental clutter.

Schedule spontaneity

Anyone who’s served in the military was subjected to “mandatory fun,” which affectionately describes activities foisted on personnel by the chain of command. No one wants to go, everyone is convinced they’re going to hate it, but those activities often wind up being a good time.

Working college students should make time to schedule their own “mandatory fun.” Organize a weekly happy hour with friends. You’ll find yourself refreshed and rejuvenated afterward, if for no other reason than you’ve left the books behind for a while.

Get moving

Many avid runners will tell you that their best ideas come in the middle of a workout. Even just walking around the block can get those creative juices flowing and make schoolwork easier when you return to it.

As with many things in life, the key to having a healthy mind is finding balance. Begin working some of these tips into your daily routine, and you’ll likely see your focus and your outlook improve.


The art of practicing yoga helps in controlling an individual’s mind, body and soul. It brings together physical and mental disciplines to achieve a peaceful body and mind; it helps manage stress and anxiety and keeps you relaxing. It also helps in increasing flexibility, muscle strength and body tone.

It helps your body to relax and soothes your mind. Also it helps to make your body flexible and improves your concentration power. Also students can gain various other benefits from yoga that will help them in completing their work perfectly and make them high scorer in the class.

Yoga helps kids to: Develop body awareness. Learn how to use their bodies in a healthy way. Manage stress through breathing, awareness, meditation and healthy movement
Thanks to yoga and meditation, keeping your heart healthy is easy. Studies have shown that yoga is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease because of its cardiovascular benefits that eliminate arterial plaque. Meditation also helps lower heart rate and improve blood circulation.

Yoga exercises have a holistic effect and bring body, mind, consciousness and soul into balance. In this way Yoga assists us in coping with everyday demands, problems and worries. Yoga helps to develop a greater understanding of our self, the purpose of life and our relationship to God.

Just sit cross legged and join your palms together. Keep your spine erect and take deep breaths. Take your eyes off your textbooks and shut them for at least two to five minutes. Rid your mind from all worries and see how this pose can help you improve your focus

Available reviews of a wide range of yoga practices suggest they can reduce the impact of exaggerated stress responses and may be helpful for both anxiety and depression. In this respect, yoga functions like other self-soothing techniques, such as meditation, relaxation, exercise, or even socializing with friends.

Yoga is very safe, easy and healthy way to get fit whole life without any problems. It just needs regular practice in right way of body movements and breathing. It regularizes the connection between three components of our body such as body, mind and soul. It regularizes the functioning of the all body organs and prevents the body and mind to get disturbed because of some bad situations and unhealthy lifestyle. It helps in maintaining the health, knowledge and inner peace. By providing a good health it fulfils our physical needs, through knowledge it fulfils our psychological needs and through inner peace is fulfils the spiritual need thus it helps in maintaining the harmony among all.

Regular practice of the yoga in the morning provides outer and inner relief by keeping away from the countless ailments at the physical and mental level. Practicing postures or asanas strengthens the body and mind as well as creates the feeling of well-being. It sharpens the human mind, improves intelligence and help in high level of concentration by steadying the emotions and feelings.

The feeling of well-being creates helping nature within us and thus enhances the social well-being. Improved concentration level helps in meditating and provides calming effect and inner peace to the mind. Yoga is like a practical philosophy which develops self-discipline and self-awareness within us through regular practice.

Yoga can be practiced by anyone as it is irrespective of age, religion, or health circumstances. It improves the discipline and sense of power as well as provides a chance to life healthy life without physical and mental problems. To enhance its awareness about all benefits all over the world, the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi has suggested to the United Nations General Assembly to declare the 21st of June as an International Day of Yoga so that each and every may know about yoga and can been benefited. Yoga is an ancient Indian tradition which was originated in India and practiced regularly by the yogis to get fit and meditate. By seeing the benefits of implementing the yoga in daily life, United Nations General Assembly has declared the International Day of Yoga to be celebrated every year on 21st of June.

We cannot count the benefits of yoga, we can understand it only a miracle which has been gifted to the human fraternity by the God. It maintains physical fitness, reduces stress, control on emotions, feelings, controls negative thoughts, feeling of general well-being, improves mental clarity, enhances self-understanding, and connects to the nature and many more.

What You Need to Know About Mental Health Support Groups

Sometimes a group of people can assemble and amazing things will happen. These people often share a common problem, and by listening and working together, they can help each other heal and grow. These are sometimes called support groups, or self-help groups.

When you face a problem in life, the first people to whom you turn are often friends and family members. But sometimes people in your life may struggle to relate, or they might be more focused on giving advice than hearing what you have to say. So often it can prove beneficial to sit and talk with other people who are dealing with the same kinds of issues. These issues might include addiction, medical problems, family problems, or other life situations. Together, group members support and strengthen each other as they learn to problem-solve and cope with life’s challenges.
How do support groups work, exactly? Many rely on the principal of self-disclosure, where participants share stories and information about their own emotions, thoughts, and behaviours. However, people are welcome to share as little or as much as they like. Self-disclosure can be powerful because it reminds people that they are not alone and that others have persevered and even flourished despite challenging times. People who suffer from a medical illness can also feel less isolated when they can relate to others in a similar situation.

Types of Support Groups

There are many different types of support groups. Some are independent, while others may be affiliated with a larger organization. Groups sometimes meet in people’s homes, but often they meet out in the community, at locations such as schools, places of worship, hospitals, community centres, or other non-profit organizations. Sometimes a group will have a professional leading the discussion and providing education for members, but most often support groups simply consist of people who are experiencing a similar dilemma. Often more experienced members of the groups welcome newer members by sharing information from their own lives, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t also continue to learn and grow.
Perhaps the most famous type of self-help or support group is the twelve-step model found in Alcoholics Anonymous. This model, often used for other kinds of dependence such as overeating or gambling, helps keep identities confidential outside of meetings but provides familiarity and support within the group. Other types of support groups might be more psychoeducational in nature, providing important information about dealing with an illness or challenge. If a person wishes to completely retain their anonymity or struggles to find a group in their region, they might try an online support group. Chat rooms, discussion boards, and other websites can connect people from around the globe and provide support 24 hours a day.

How Do I Start?

Consult with a professional

Your first instinct might be to conduct an online search, which might prove helpful. However, many groups in your community may not advertise online, so if you’re looking locally, you might want to consider talking to a doctor or mental health professional for options. They are bound to keep your information confidential, so you don’t have to worry about keeping issues private.

Try multiple groups

Many people acknowledge that it can take a while to find a doctor or a counselor they like. Similarly, you might not find the best support group right away. Each group is different and has different personalities. So don’t talk yourself out of a second try if the first group you visit isn’t quite right for you.

Don’t worry about your participation

No support group will ever force you to participate. Not everyone feels ready to share personal information with strangers right away, so it’s okay to just listen until you feel ready. Often listening to other people’s stories can provide comfort and provide needed information, and this can prepare you to begin to support others you may encounter in the future who struggling with similar challenges.

Respect confidentiality

It’s likely that you will hear interesting and powerful stories in a support group. But these stories should be kept in the group, and you should respect the privacy of others. While you’re welcome to share your own thoughts on the subject with friends and family, remember that a group works best when you respect other people’s stories and personal information.

No question is too silly

Don’t be afraid to ask simple questions in a support group. People get the most out of a group when they take the time to advocate for their needs. So if something sounds confusing, or if you feel like you have a different perspective, consider that you have something to offer the group. Be respectful in your response, and remember that you might be helping someone who hasn’t summoned the courage to ask that same question.

If you still feel too nervous to begin, you can always ask a friend or family member to accompany you to a local group. Showing up is a powerful step towards accepting the reality that you are not alone, and that help is available. By welcoming support and courage, you can model for others the reality that no one is truly alone, and that people can heal with the help of their community.
Family Support Group is a peer-led support group for family members, caregivers and loved ones of individuals living with mental illness. Gain insight from the challenges and successes of others facing similar circumstances.

Support Groups are unique because they follow a structured model, ensuring everyone has an opportunity to be heard and to get what they need.

• Free of cost to participants
• Designed for adult loved ones (18+) of individuals living with mental illness
• Led by family members of individuals living with mental illness
• Meets weekly or monthly
• No specific medical therapy or medication is endorsed or recommended
• Confidential

What You’ll Gain

By sharing your experiences in a safe and confidential setting, you gain hope and develop supportive relationships. This group allows your voice to be heard, and provides an opportunity for your personal needs to be met. It encourages empathy, productive discussion and a sense of community. You’ll benefit through other’s experiences, discover your inner strength and learn now to identify local resources and how to use them.

Family Support Group will help students:

• See the individual first, not the illness
• Recognize that mental illnesses are medical illnesses that may have environmental triggers
• Understand that mental illnesses are traumatic events
• Aim for better coping skills
• Find strength in sharing experiences
• Reject stigma and not tolerate discrimination
• Not judge anyone’s pain
• Forgive ourselves and reject guilt
• Embrace humor as healthy
• Accept that we cannot solve every problem
• Work for a better future in a realistic way

What People Are Saying

“Using the support group model is so essential to the success of our family support groups. As a group, the collective wisdom covered a lot of possibilities.”
“The most beneficial thing for support group is that the student will not feel alone


In India, struggles to address mental health

For the past 20 years, Geeta tried everything to cure her son. She sold precious family ornaments and her prized gold chain; she took him to faith healers, temples, and astrologists across India; and she even married him off.

But nothing worked. Ramash,* 45, continued to remain elusive: He talked no one but himself; he was socially withdrawn; and was often delusional, seeing things that no one else could.

“I tried everything but nothing worked,” said Geeta, who lives in rural Bangalore, the capital city of Karnataka, a state in southern India. “I felt that an evil spirit had done black magic on him. I was fearful of being at home with just him. It’s very sad because the community treats us badly.”

But earlier this year, Geeta and Ramesh finally got some answers. Ramesh was diagnosed with chronic schizophrenia and put on antipsychotic medication. Ramesh was connected with the public health care system after a community health worker recognized his symptoms. She referred him to a nearby primary health care center, eventually connecting him with a psychiatrist.

It was not an easy task. Nagaveni, a community health worker, recalled visiting the family “four or five times because they believed it was black magic.”

“They weren’t having any success with faith healers so they agreed.”
But while it’s early days, the intervention seems to have hit its mark. After all her efforts failed, Geeta said she is hopeful the medication will help her son. “He’s my only son, I’m worried about the future. I want him to get better.”

Mental health neglected

An estimated 150 million people across India are in need of mental health care interventions, both short and long-term, according to India’s latest National Mental Health Survey 2015-16. The survey, which was carried out across 12 states, found that the overall prevalence for current mental health morbidity was 10.6 percent.
Despite the high number of people who need care, mental health has been sorely neglected in India, rooted in stigma, taboo, and myths.
Poor awareness about the symptoms of mental illness, stigma and the lack of mental health services available has resulted in a massive treatment gap, with inadequate numbers of trained mental health care professionals. The survey found that, depending on the state, between 70 and 92 percent of those in need of mental health care failed to receive any treatment.
There are just 0.3 psychiatrists, 0.07 psychologists and 0.07 social workers per 100,000 people in India. To compare, the ratio of psychiatrists in developed countries is 6.6 per 100,000 and the average number of mental hospitals globally is 0.04 per 100,000 while it’s only 0.004 in India.

Community mental health care

The lack of mental health care workers is hardly a new, or ignored, issue. In 1982, the government of India began implementing its National Mental Health Program with the broader aim of integrating mental health care with general care. Fourteen years later, the program expanded to the district level with the vision that each of India’s 630 districts would have a District Mental Health Program by 2025.

The objective of the DMHP is to provide community mental health services at the primary health care level by training a mental health team comprised of a psychiatrist, psychologist, psychiatric social workers, and nurses in each district, along with increasing awareness and reducing stigma.
But rollout has been slow. As of 2015, nearly two decades after the program launched, it was only prevalent in 27 percent of districts. The DMHP has also been plagued by inaccessible funding and administrative and programmatic problems such as poor governance, unrealistic expectations from low paid and poorly motivated health care workers, and a lack of understanding of ground realities.

But perhaps the chief shortfall has been its inability to fill the required number of professionals required in each district.

Recognizing this, staff from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences and the government of Karnataka, in southwest India, realized that community health workers, better known as Accredited Social Health Activists, or ASHA workers, presented a unique opportunity to fill the gap. Starting in 2016, they began giving the workers extra training in identifying and dealing with mental health issues.

There are more than 800,000 ASHA workers across India who act as interface between the community and public health system. The workers are specially trained local women, selected from those between the ages of 25 and 45 who have completed 10th grade schooling. Based in villages, their roles include counselling women on pregnancy, safe delivery, and breastfeeding, facilitating immunizations, and diabetes checks amid other health-related services.

“We have thirty districts in Karnataka and apart from the urban areas, we won’t find psychiatrists, psychologists or any other mental health professionals,” said Anish Cherian, from the department of psychiatric social work at NIMHANS, who is involved with the program. “There’s a huge skill shortage and the distribution of professionals hasn’t been even.”

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“ASHA workers are very trusted members of the community — they’re known in every household,” Cherian said.

As a result, Karnataka has trained more than 22,000 workers on basic mental health in the last year alone. The training is just one day, and is carried out by each district’s DMHP and then continued one day per month by medical officers.

The ongoing training includes teaching ASHA workers how to recognize common to severe mental health problems like schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, and alcohol abuse along with teaching them how to refer patients to a professional at the primary health care level and also to provide basic counselling.

Cherian explained that because most cases require basic interventions such as listening, talking, and minor lifestyle changes, he said ASHA workers were in a unique position to offer such services in a supportive way.

“Most cases need basic interventions. Many people have tension, fatigue, and body aches and pains. They just need someone to talk to, to sit with them and support them,” he said.

A psychiatrist for Bangalore DMHP, Dr. Chetan Kumar, said utilizing ASHA workers was about strengthening the system rather than creating a new one.

“Increasing the number of psychologists and psychiatrists alone won’t help — that would take another 150 years to fill the gap,” he said.

But for patients with more severe mental health illnesses like Ramesh, linkage to care is a long road because of the lack of providers. Patients in rural areas who need care often have to travel more than 100 kilometers to see a psychiatrist, Cherian said.

Structural issues

The use of ASHA workers for India’s mental health response is not just confined to Karnataka.

In the northern Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, ESSENCE, a five-year research project that began last year by Harvard Medical School and Sangath, an NGO in south India in partnership with the state government, is evaluating the use of technology interventions to train and support ASHA workers to deliver therapy for depression.
Such efforts are part of India’s broader plan to implement its first ever National Mental Health Policy which was launched in 2014. The policy aims to provide universal access to mental health care by enhancing understanding of mental health. The policy called for increased funding along with an increased number of professionals to be trained on all levels from the community to specialized psychiatrists.

Much of the policy is reliant on individual states to implement it effectively. It is widely acknowledged that southern states like Karnataka are more likely to spend funds more efficiently on district-level programs than relatively poorer and more populous states in the north.
Greg Armstrong, research fellow at the Centre for Mental Health at the University of Melbourne, Australia, said the use of ASHA workers to provide basic mental health care was encouraging as it signaled India was moving closer to being able to fulfil the human right of access to mental health treatment.
Last year, the country passed the Mental Health Care Act 2017, which looks to empower people suffering from mental illness and to safeguard their rights and access to treatment without discrimination, amid other clauses.
Armstrong stressed that while ASHA workers could fill a gap in the system, they were simultaneously creating demand for treatment when specialized supply was not yet fully available.
“ASHAs have to do everything and now we’re getting them to do mental health care. It’s not a bad thing but it creates a lot of pressure when the nearest psychiatrist might be six hours away,” he said. “We need to consider the whole mental health system on a region-by-region or district-by-district basis.”
So, while on paper 27 percent of India’s districts have a district mental health program, many are lacking a fully equipped team.
To this end, Armstrong highlighted that many mental health problems including depression may in many cases be strongly intertwined with major structural and social issues such as entrenched poverty, domestic violence, and early marriage. Armstrong said this meant there was an imperative to not to drop vigilance in addressing broader issues in India.
Looking ahead, experts are encouraged that momentum is building in India to provide better care and combat stigma. But it’s a long road.
“It’s a mammoth task,” Dr Kumar said. “Indians aren’t immune to mental health illnesses but they don’t believe they suffer from it.”

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