The Mental Health Crisis: Exploring the Struggles of Adolescence

Recently, mental health challenges among teenagers have skyrocketed, creating what psychologists have coined a “mental health crisis.” Adolescence is already haunted by specters of change, and unique factors from the modern era have further complicated these struggles. From neglect to the need to fulfill expectations, it is vital to understand the root causes of the rise of mental health crises to address and support our adolescents. 

Family Dynamics and Peer Pressure 

Dysfunctional family environments and lack of support from home cause adolescents to feel alienation. In 2023, over 80% of Americans reported living in a dysfunctional household. Teenagers find themselves or their family members as scapegoats for another family member’s problem  and are forced to accept negative treatment. It is difficult to seek help, and youths’ struggles are often brushed off because of how normalized dysfunctional families have become. 

Furthermore, technological advances have opened the door to the widespread usage of social media, which has had a negative impact on adolescents. Many find themselves in a constant loop of comparison, comparing themselves to those with the “ideal life” online. Being behind a screen has also fueled cyberbullying and spreading misinformation, perpetuating negativity and motivating self-harm. 

Outside of social media, teenagers still find themselves desperate to conform with social norms. This pressure causes them to engage in risky behaviors, which often develops psychiatric disorders like depression and anxiety. 

Drug Addiction

Dysfunctional families and peer pressure, combined with other challenges, have made adolescents prone to what is referred to as the “tobacco moment.” Tobacco companies primarily target adolescents by advertising themselves as “relief” from their struggles. Vape is the tobacco product that has become popular for the current young generation. Marketed as more flavorful and easier to hide compared to traditional tobacco products, it has captured much attention. Teens begin with experimentation, which quickly escalates into addiction, followed by the further deterioration of their mental stability.

Support Systems

Adolescents are particularly vulnerable when it comes to mental health. However, there are a variety of methods to combat it, including: 

  • Practicing the importance of seeking help and not being afraid to speak up from a young age.
  • Educating society to appreciate each other and to build a harmonic community with one another where everyone feels valued and supported.
  • Fostering healthy relationships with others to avoid negative emotions and be able emotional support when needed. 
  • Increasing access to services in schools and communities, where people can freely express their struggles without being invalidated; find themselves being listened to with open ears and being welcomed with genuine concern. 
  • Encouraging healthy digital habits and establishing more events for adolescents to enjoy outside of their screen.

By implementing these strategies and working together as a community, we can effectively tackle the mental health crisis and foster a loving society.

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