Sep 20

The adolescent years are a very critical period of adjustment for both teens and families. Teenagers have to adapt to many physical, mental and emotional changes during this phase of life. As parents and as community members it is important to be aware and understand how teens develop, the challenges that youth face, and the ways in which the family can help them to become and stay as physically and mentally healthy as possible. Talking to teens about issues of mental health can be difficult – but it is the best way to understand what they are going through and if they need to get help. In my experience, it is often easier for teenagers to open themselves up towards relatives, professional counselors or other non-family members.

Being a teenager is hard. Teenagers are under stress to be liked, to do well in school, get along with the family and they have to make big decisions. Most of these pressures can’t be avoided, so it is perfectly normal to worry at times. But feeling very sad, hopeless or worthless could be warning signs of a mental health problem one should seek help for. Such problems are real, sometimes painful and severe. As a teenager, look out for help if you have the signs mentioned above or if you

  • Often feel very angry or worried
  • Feel grief for a long time after a loss or death
  • Feel very fearful at times
  • Think your mind is controlled or out of control
  • Primarily communicate with others over the Internet
  • Spend lots of time on Online Games
  • Use alcohol or drugs
  • are constantly concerned about physical problems or appearance
  • Exercise, diet and/or binge-eat obsessively
  • Hurt other people or destroy property
  • Do reckless things that could harm you or others
  • Feel shy or unconfident amongst others
  • Have problems in school but see no way out of it

To find help, discuss your concerns with your teacher, school counselor or others such as a family doctor, psychiatrist, psychotherapist, psychologist, social worker, religious counselor or nurse.

(This short article is part of a weekly series dealing with psychological expat problems and general mental health issues and was published in various newspapers and magazines in Thailand, 2010)

Nov 09

by Robert Preidt

new article illustration

THURSDAY, Nov. 6 (HealthDay News) — For children and teens who suffer violence at the hands of peers, immediate one-on-one mentoring on how to safely avoid conflict and diffuse threats reduces their risk of becoming victims again, a new study says.

The study included 10- to 15-year-olds treated for assault injuries — including gunshot, knife and fist-fight wounds — at emergency rooms at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore and Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., between 2001 and 2004.

Half of the 113 victims were treated and then referred by an ER doctor for at least six sessions of one-on-one counseling and three parent-home visits. The other half of the victims were referred to community resources and received two follow-up phone calls.

The counseling sessions included advice on how to identify and avoid triggers of anger, and role playing about conflict resolution and getting out of dangerous situations in appropriate ways.

The participants who received personalized counseling and formed a mentoring relationship with their counselors reported 25 percent fewer fights and 42 percent fewer fight injuries six months later, compared to those who received referrals only, the researchers said.

In addition, participants who received mentoring reported less aggression and fewer misdemeanors and were more likely to “think about the consequences,” take steps to avoid fighting, and “take a time out” when faced with a conflict.

The findings, published in the November issue of the journal Pediatrics, suggest that the emergency room is a critical point for initiating this type of intervention, which gives at-risk children and teens behavioral options that can prevent violence, the researchers said.

“There can be a cycle of violence fueled by fear and retaliatory feelings,” study lead investigator Dr. Tina Cheng, head of general pediatrics and adolescent medicine at Hopkins Children’s, said in a Hopkins news release. “When we see youth with assault injuries in the ER, we have a golden window of opportunity to step in and interrupt this cycle, and our findings suggest that pairing teens with mentors who teach them problem-solving skills can help decrease the risk of future violence,” she added.

(This article: Copyright © 2008 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.)