Child and adolescent health and development

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Modules on adolescent mental health promotion

Overview

Adolescence has frequently been called “the tumultuous teens”. As defined by the World Health Organization, adolescence is the period between 10 and 19 years. These are the formative as well as impressionable years when the maximum amount of physical, psychological and behavioural changes taking place. Adolescence is the transition from a “child” into an “adult”. The “child explores new ideas, widens his/her horizons, and finally assumes greater responsibility and an individual identity.

Healthy development of adolescents depends on several interactive and complex factors. They include the socioeconomic circumstances in which a person is born, the environment in which he/she grows up, his/her inter-personal relationships within the family, peer group pressure, values of the community in which he/she lives and the opportunity for education and employment.

Despite the multitude of factors which can influence the development of adolescents, their mental well-being is crucial. Adolescents must learn how to cope with psychological stress, handle peer pressure, deal with their emotions, resolve conflicts, build bridges with friends and family, develop self-confidence, safeguard themselves from high pressure marketing strategies, particularly of the alcohol industry, as well as cope with other stresses like academic competition and a hankering for material gains. However, rarely are these sensitive issues addressed in schools and within families.

The programme on adolescent mental health was developed to meet the psychological needs of adolescents as they pass through “a difficult period” in their lives. The modules on adolescent mental health promotion developed by an expert on behalf of WHO, use the life skills education approach by which adolescents are taught to analyze situations, think of various options and make informed decisions which are best in their best interest. These modules are not meant as a “self-learning” or “do-it-yourself”. They are meant to serve as resource material for trainers in conducting life skills for adolescents.