Youths of today live in the best of times, in the age of wisdom, and in the epoch of belief. Major medical and technological breakthroughs has been made the last decades, such as sequencing of the human genome, development in HIV/AIDS treatments, and the human papillomavirus vaccine.
Nonetheless, there are still severe health concerns to tackle, why paraphrasing Dickens and his dual depiction is more relevant than ever; thus, we also live in the worst of times, in the age of foolishness, and in the age of incredulity.
Following globalization and economic turmoil, present-day youths are in for a challenging and possibly, more changing world ever faced by previous generations. Over the last 20 years, youth unemployment has remained three times that of adult unemployment and, in some countries; it is currently five times the adult level.
Youth employment crisis, aggravated by the global financial recession, significantly affects adolescents' mental health; be it in Spain, Australia or India. What is more, mental health seems to decrease more than physical health during tough economic times.
Directly manifested, mental illness increases the risk of suicide -- which is a leading cause of death among youths in numerous countries, such as China, India, and USA. Incidentally, mental illness affects progress towards fundamental public health objectives, such as gender equality, educational achievements, reduction of child mortality, improvement of maternal health, interpersonal violence and the spread of HIV/AIDS -- why there simply put can be no health without mental health.
Unlike most physical disorders, stigmatization is a serious concern when suffering from mental illnesses, as is psychiatric care. Factors perpetuating treatment gaps when individuals tend not to seek help for their disorders. According to a comprehensive review of international data, stigmatization of mental conditions also leads to less research being conducted in the area, why developing indicators for mental health care would improve worldwide coverage of adolescent health.
Personally, I have experienced the devastating impact of mental illnesses on the individual, while working as a clinician in psychiatric care. There are few other illnesses which affects the person and his/her family as much as severe mental health disorders. Be it Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder or clinical depression. Due to its very nature, mental health raises as many conceptual questions as empirical dittos. What exactly are feelings? Is there such a thing as a reality or is it all just a temporal change into relativity?
When interning at the World health organization, I also fathomed the worldwide impact of mental health disorders. Depression alone accounts for almost 5 percent of global burden of disease -- being among the largest single causes of disability internationally. In fact, the estimated global cumulative loss in economic output due to mental disorders is $16.3 million U.S. between 2011 and 2030.
The early stages of life provide an imperative opportunity to prevent mental illnesses, as 50 percent of mental disorders begin before the age of 14. Young people represent the promise of changing societies for the better, why policymakers should implement social policies supporting youths to cope with the downturn, preventing negative mental health.
With the increase in organizational capacities utilizing social media, and the lessons learnt from the recent occupy movements, adolescents of today are in an excellent position to spur youth-led activism. Why they need to be provided with better mental health resources to facilitate their productive memberships in our communities. Which in a repeated cycle, would in turn, prevent future mental illnesses.