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World Mental Health Day 2018
Lucy Price on October 11, 2018 at 3:21 am
Since World Mental Health Day was first observed in 1992, it has aimed to increase awareness of a variety of mental health conditions and disorders. World Mental Health Day 2018 focuses on Young people and mental health in a changing world.
As highlighted in their campaign document, growing up in the world today poses a range of challenges for young people, many of which are unlike those faced by previous generations. To mark this day, we have selected a collection of papers which reflect some of the mental health issues faced by young people today.
Back in 2014, we published a paper highlighting the impact of cyberbullying on the mental wellbeing of young people. Published in Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics Dr Charisse Nixon’s article Current perspectives: the impact of cyberbullying on adolescent health indicated that even in 2014, 95% of adolescents in the USA were believed to be connected to the internet. She argued that the “shift from face-to-face communication to online communication has created a unique and potentially harmful dynamic for social relationships.”
Dr Nixon explores the impact of cyberbullying on young people’s mental health, drawing attention to instances where victims have been driven to suicide after experiencing “relentless acts of cyberbullying.” The paper looks at previous studies into the effects of cyberbullying which have been reported to range from feelings of sadness and powerlessness to depression and anxiety. Dr Nixon suggests that in many ways cyberbullying can be more stressful than ‘face to face’ bullying and that previous studies have identified that often young people do not know the identity of the perpetrator of their online abuse.
Gambling disorder in adolescents: prevalence, new developments, and treatment challenges, explores the impact of online and offline gambling on the mental wellbeing of young people. The author, Dr Georgios Floros, writes that “A 2016 review of the literature accepts that between 4% and 8 % of adolescent gamblers are experiencing significant gambling-related problems. Those include various psychosocial issues, poor academic performance, intrafamilial conflict, economic hardship, difficult peer relationships and social exclusion, diffuse and multiple mental health issues including increased rates of suicide ideation and attempts, drug and alcohol use.” Dr Floros examines the effect of the internet on adolescent gambling prevalence, and states that “there has been a steady increase in adolescents turning to novel forms of gambling via the internet.” The paper looks at previous studies linking gambling with substance abuse and mental health issues. The paper also reports that previous studies indicate that young people with problematic gambling were more likely to report mental distress and to report previous suicide attempts.
Gender dysphoria in adolescence: current perspectives, also published in Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics examines the prevalence of psychiatric disorders in transgender youth. Kaltiala-Heino et al. write that “Descriptive studies of adolescents referred to specialized gender identity services at different centers in Europe and North America have mainly suggested that ~40%–45% of these young people present with clinically significant psychopathology”. The authors add that “in a large school-based survey study on teen dating violence, the few transgender-identifying youth in the sample reported the highest victimization rates for physical dating violence, psychological dating abuse, cyber dating abuse and sexual coercion” and state that “community-level information suggests that transgender-identifying youth present four to six times more often with depression and three to four times more often with self-harm and/or suicidal behavior compared with cisgender adolescents.” This paper reflects the vulnerability of transgender youth, and the work still needed to protect them from online and offline abuse.
The final paper we have selected examines the prevalence of eating disorders in young men. Limbers et al. highlight that eating disorders are typically seen as an issue affecting primarily women. Their paper Eating disorders in adolescent and young adult males: prevalence, diagnosis, and treatment strategies, states “Males have largely been underrepresented in the eating disorder (ED) peer-reviewed literature.” In addition to eating disorders such as binge eating disorder and anorexia nervosa, young men are also presenting with muscle dysmorphic disorder. Although currently classified as a body dysmorphic disorder, young men who are suffering with this disorder believe they are not sufficiently muscular and “often engage in activities intended to enhance muscularity including dieting, weightlifting, and steroid drug use.” Limbers et al. also highlight that gay and bisexual men “exhibit higher rates of ED pathology.” Alarmingly, the authors suggest that “Existing prevalence rates likely underestimate the number of males affected by EDs, as the social stigma associated with ED pathology in males often causes them to minimize or deny the presence of symptoms.” The authors call for further research to determine whether male-specific interventions are needed to improve outcomes for young men with eating disorders.