Mental health and adolescence

Mental health and adolescence are concepts that go together. Adolescence is a unique and formative stage that entails physical, emotional and social changes in which if there is exposure to elements that produce vulnerability, mental health problems may develop. It is important that adolescents are protected from adversity, social-emotional learning is promoted, and they are given access to appropriate mental health care.

Therefore, it is worth taking into account some of the factors that affect mental health in adolescents. Adversity, social pressure from peers and the exploration of their own identity. The quality of their domestic life and relationships with their peers. Socioeconomic problems and other serious problems. A situation of stigmatization, discrimination, exclusion, or lack of access to quality services and support. The imposition of gender norms that can exacerbate the discrepancy between the reality that the adolescent experiences and their perceptions or aspirations for the future.

In that sense, the data, right now, are not encouraging. It is estimated that one in seven adolescents aged 10 to 19 (14%) suffers from a mental disorder. In this sense, 3.6% of adolescents between 10 and 14 years old and 4.6% of those between 15 and 19 years old suffer from an anxiety disorder; as well as 1.1% of adolescents from 10 to 14 years old and 2.8% of those from 15 to 19 years old suffer from depression.

In this context, healthcare attention to the problem of mental health and adolescence has not been entirely sufficient. The 2022 Health at a Glance report showed that almost one in two young Europeans report unmet needs for mental health care. In turn, the Health at a Glance Europe 2018 report highlighted that mental health problems affect around 84 million people across the EU.

Therefore, the new comprehensive approach that the European Commission has adopted on mental health offers an interesting perspective on how to address this problem. This recognizes that mental health is more than just health and involves areas such as education, digitalization, employment, research, urban development, environment and climate.

In this context, projects in which we participate such as IMPROVA, which want to design an eHealth platform focused on the promotion of mental health and the early detection of mental health problems in secondary schools throughout Europe, are an example of how to face the problems of mental health and adolescence in a comprehensive approach.