Monthly Archives: October 2019

LET ADOLESCENT MENTAL HEALTH BE A PRIORITY

WRITES JOAN ZAWEDDE

GUIDANCE AND COUNSELLING STUDENT- KYAMBOGO UNIVERSITY

“Health does not always come from medicine. Most of the time. It comes from peace of mind, peace in the heart, peace in the soul. It comes from laughter and love”- Joan Zawedde

IN SET ABOVE: JOAN ZAWEDDE, A COUNSELLING STUDENT OF KYAMBOGO UNIVERSITY

Adolescents are individuals between the ages of 10 to 19 where they begin to transition from childhood to adulthood. A weird acting adolescent may be termed as one that has a mental problem, meaning that his/her mental health is not okay. Mental health is the absence of mental illness. A mental illness is a condition that disrupts one’s thinking, feeling and ability to interact with others.

Most adolescents do not suffer from any mental illness because this is the most active stage of a human being, where development occurs on a high rate. The adolescent stage is where pubic hair starts to develop, breasts, hips and fair skin amongst girls starts to develop while in boys the masculine body and deep voice starts to emerge. Mental illness however, can affect all this kind of development. A girl’s menstrual period may be affected, and for the boys, their masculinity may not emerge. However, WHO states that 10-20% of adolescents experience mental disorders due to factors like poverty, domestic violence, sexual abuse, bullying, social media (cyber bullying), and separation of parents among others.

In our community, about 66% of adolescents face sexual abuse from close relatives and friends, and they are always terrified to report this kind of abuse to their parents or the police. This affects them psychologically and they start having depression, post-traumatic symptoms, hating themselves, some resort to abusing drugs like marijuana, some start acting in ways that are abnormal for example constant isolation, self-harm, or extreme short temperedness. We always rush to say they are abnormal or weird without getting to know the bottom of the story most times. Domestic violence between the parents of an adolescent can greatly torture him/her psychologically though most parents don’t think about this. About 65% of adolescents suffer from this kind of abuse and they always develop feelings of guilt, thinking he/she is the major cause of misunderstandings between his/her parents, depression, lack of interest in school, emotional numbing, and anxiety towards the parent that’s more violent. At times such experiences cause one to become a homosexual.

MENTAL HEALTH PATIENT RECEIVES A VISIT IN BUTABIIKA REFERRAL HOSPITAL

Mental health in adolescents is very vital though it is not taken as a serious issue yet mental illness in adolescents if untreated can cause disability because it greatly disrupts growth, education, development and potential of living a good life like changes in sleep patterns(insomnia or parasomnia), changes in appetite, concentration, and energy level. Adolescents with mental illness are prone to challenges like diseases, stigma, isolation, and discrimination therefore lacking access to health care and sometimes even education. Adolescents with mental illness can easily resort to dropping out of school, early and unsafe pregnancy, self-harm, suicide, HIV/AIDs, lack of interest in hobbies, changes in school grades, disinterest in friends, violence(out-of-character irritability), and alcoholism or drug abuse.

It’s up to you today to start making healthy choices. Not choices that are just healthy for your body, but healthy for your mind.” Kakinda Adrian

Common types of mental illnesses in adolescents include;

Anxiety disorders characterized by excessive fear, worry, and uneasiness. Anxiety disorders also are characterized by post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) where the individual suffers from stress from a past traumatic experience, generalized anxiety where the individual is always in constant worry about everyday matters, social anxiety; the individual is too afraid of being around other people, panic attacks where the individual experiences an abrupt surge of intense fear for some minutes characterized by sweating, shaking, smothering, among others, obsessive-compulsive disorder involves consistent obsessions like sexual obsessions, cleaning obsessions, religious obsessions among others and phobias, extreme fear for something. And this occurs in nearly 32% of adolescents’ aged 13-18 years.

Eating disorders; this is characterized by excessive eating or abnormal eating behaviors. While some parents may think the child is having an appetite, it is important to notice that the child’s behavior isn’t normal and seek help. Examples of eating disorders include binge eating disorders, bulimia and anorexia nervosa. Almost 3% of the adolescents experience this type of disorder from the ages 13-18 years.

Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); with this kind of mental illness, the adolescent is extremely active (hyperactive), can’t pay attention to anything, and so impulsive (acting without giving a thought). About 9% of adolescents suffer from this kind of mental illness.

Depression. This is where the individual has suffered constant episodes of stress and they turn out to become depression. The individual may adopt binge eating, over sleeping or getting too involved in a particular activity, hopelessness, restlessness, suicidal thoughts, feeling persistently sad or empty

inset above: victim of mental health disorders

WHAT WE CAN DO

Health workers need to relate with young people to detect mental illnesses early, and provide counseling, therapy and medication where there is need. Strategies like improving on social skills, problem-solving skills and self-confidence should be taught to adolescents to help them cope or prevent mental health problems like anxiety, stress and depression.

This can be effective if the parents of the adolescents also act early because most parents think of asking for help when the issue has been going on for months and months because they don’t want to believe that it is actually happening to their child (denial). Parents should also support their children when they suffer from a mental illness through motivating them, taking recovery as a step by step process, and also trying to eliminate whatever makes them anxious or what reminds them of a traumatic event.

By

JOAN ZAWEDDE

COUNSELLING STUDENTS, KYAMBOGO UNIVERSITY

+256 700759543


UGANDA SHOULD STEP UP THE FIGHTING SPIRIT AGAINST MENTAL HEALTH DISORDERS IN ADOLESCENTS

WRITES KYAMBOGO UNIVERSITY STUDENT

DIANA NAMBOGO

“What mental health needs is more sunlight,more candor, and more conversation” Glenn Close

DIANA NAMBOGO A STUDENT OF GUIDANCE AND COUNSELLING.KYAMBOGO UNIVERSITY

Tomorrow, Uganda will join the rest of the world to commemorate and celebrate the World Mental Health Day which is observed on 10th October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health. The Day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide. This acts as a spring board for my writing of this article.

COUNSELORS SHOULD LEAD IN THE FIGHT OF MENTAL HEALTH ILLNESSES

Adolescence (1019 years) is a unique and formative time. Whilst most adolescents have good mental health, multiple physical, emotional and social changes, including exposure to poverty, abuse, or violence, can make adolescents vulnerable to mental health problems. Promoting psychological well-being and protecting adolescents from adverse experiences and risk factors which may impact their potential to thrive are not only critical for their well-being during adolescence, but also for their physical and mental health in adulthood.

Generally mental health is the level of psychological wellness or being ,it’s therefore a state where an individual minds are functioning at a satisfactory level and these help individuals (adolescents )to cope up with various aspects in their lives for example them dealing with daily stress ,being vital in society etc.

Drugs and substance abuse are leading causes of mental health disorders

With prior knowledge an adolescent ranges from the age of 10-19 years with it being one of the most crucial stage of life, development as a process, maintaining of social and emotional habits .It’s been on understanding that almost half mental health of the adolescents starts at an early age of about 14 years and these have been due to depression over several issues they face in their lives. Adolescence is a crucial period for developing and maintaining social and emotional habits important for mental well-being. These include adopting healthy sleep patterns; taking regular exercise; developing coping, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills; and learning to manage emotions. Supportive environments in the family, at school, and in the wider community are also important.

MENTAL HEALTH PATIENTS IN BUTABIIKA HOSPITAL

At this age an adolescent is so reserved and can’t easily disclose enough about the challenges he or she is going through yet they need a lot of attention and information about variety of problems that affect them for example getting involves in risky sexual activities ,intoxication(use of drugs and alcohol) of which we are in a generation where various parents have failed to fulfill their responsibilities of guiding their children mostly adolescents and this hence therefore makes them assume all is well thus keeping  wasteful way of life .

Some adolescents are at greater risk of mental health conditions due to their living conditions, stigma, discrimination or exclusion, or lack of access to quality support and services. These include adolescents living in humanitarian and fragile settings; adolescents with chronic illness, autism spectrum disorder, an intellectual disability or other neurological condition; pregnant adolescents, adolescent parents, or those in early and/or forced marriages; orphans; and adolescents from minority ethnic or sexual backgrounds or other discriminated groups.

Some of the mental health disorders in adolescents include 

  • psychosis
  • Suicide and self-harm
  • Risk-taking behaviors
  • eating disorders
  • Childhood behavioural disorders

Most of it all mental health has to be promoted in all possible ways of life

  • Transdiagnostic interventions – for example, those which target multiple mental health problems.
  • Delivery by supervised staff who are trained in managing adolescents’ specific needs.
  • Engaging and empowering caregivers, where appropriate, and exploring adolescents’ preferences.
  • -Face-to-face and guided self-help methods, including electronic mental health interventions. Due to stigma or the feasibility of accessing services, unguided self-help may be suitable 

Parents should play a great role with the adolescents thus effectively be mindful and pay attention to the adolescents because they need a lot of guidance on how things are done in order for the adolescent not to have issues that break them in the future. Group and one on one counseling where an adolescent is able to share their heart felt issues with a professional counselor or therapist In order to be helped effectively and make stand still and great decisions for their lives.

MENTAL HEALTH PATIENTS DUE TO DRUGS AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE

In conclusion therefore it should be clearly noted that mental health differs from mental illness .And most of the youths aren’t certain about their mental health .And we need to come together and promote mental health in adolescents in the best way possible in order to make mental health certain to all adolescents out in the country and the world at large.

Key facts

  • One in six people are aged 10–19 years.
  • Mental health conditions account for 16% of the global burden of disease and injury in people aged 10–19 years.
  • Half of all mental health conditions start by 14 years of age but most cases are undetected and untreated.
  • Globally, depression is one of the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents.
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death in 15–19 year olds.
  • The consequences of not addressing adolescent mental health conditions extend to adulthood, impairing both physical and mental health and limiting opportunities to lead fulfilling lives as adults.
  • Mental health promotion and prevention are key to helping adolescents thrive.

THANKS

NAMBOGO DIANA

CONTACT: 0758406255

GUIDANCE & COUNSELLING STUDENT

KYAMBOGO UNIVERSITY