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Introduction: Mental health is a global issue among teens that is often misunderstood. Due to lack of mental health awareness, many people are not aware and educated on this issue. This leads to closed minds and to help teens going through mental health issues, people need to become aware and understand that the solution is very intricate and complex and people can’t just ‘get over it’.What is mental health awareness and why is it important to be aware about it?First of all, being generally healthy means to be in a state of physical and mental contentment, not just the absence of disease, affliction or sickness. The term mental health means a person’s state connected or relating to their mental, cognitive and emotional well-being(World Health Organization).Being aware about mental health and illness means to recognize the fact that mental health/illness/well being is just as important as your physical health/illness/well being. -Your mental health issues don’t only affect you, but everyone around you including friends, family, and your community, no matter how big or small the issue. Being aware means to acknowledge, accept and understand something, it can also involve advocacy. Being aware about mental health issues means to accept the medical essence of it and not telling people to just ‘get over it’, because the solution is much more complicated and intricate(International Bipolar Foundation). There is a huge misunderstanding about teens with mental health issues or problems. People think teens are just lazy or making stuff up, hence the reason many teens like to keep their feelings bottled up which is very unhealthy. As mentioned before, mental health issues like anxiety, stress and depression, should be given the same amount of importance as physical health issues like, diabetes, blood pressure, etc. Being aware about this issue makes you educated and more able to help teens suffering from these issues and be able to sort of understand what they are going through as well. The more you know, the more power you have. Therefore knowledge is power. You can use this power to create a positive impact on your community, at school or even at home. Lack of awareness on mental health is not an individual problem, it is our problem as a community filled with diversity and many teens going through life without feeling understood.. Awareness also helps to eliminate the stigma around this issue. Stigma attributes to the thoughts, feelings and opinions of the community. Stigma shames and humiliates teens with mental illnesses or issues. It creates a community with very closed minds and reject the acceptance of anyone who is ‘different’, and that’s a big problem. Whether a community has a negative or positive trend is determined by the attitude and perception of the residents. Negative attitudes equals negative trend which equals closed minds, denial, discrimination and hatred. Although it is difficult to be completely aware about issues but knowledge is power, and the power to reach out and educate your community, is worth it because many young people around your city, all over Canada, and even all over the world are suffering from mental health issues.Who is impacted by this issue?Anyone and everyone can be affected by a mental illness, you don’t really get a choice and it is very common. By age 40, about 50% of the population will have or have had a mental illness and suicide accounts for a shocking 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds. Suicide is also one of the leading causes of death in both sexes from adolescence to middle age, coming in at only second to accidents and 4000 people die prematurely every year due to suicide and suicidal thoughts are connected to mental health issues. It is estimated that 10-20% of Canadian youth are affected by a mental illness or disorder.  Adding on this statistic, about 12% of female youth and 5% of male youth , between ages 12 to 19, have experienced a major depressive episode. According to Canadian Mental Health Association, the total number of 12-19 year olds in Canada at risk for developing depression is a horrific 3.2 million. It is important to be there for anyone suffering from mental issues or disorders and support them in any positive ways possible because mental illness is progressively threatening the lives of our youth; with Canada’s youth suicide rate the third highest in the modern world. Also, in Canada  only 1 out of 5 children who need mental health services receives them(Canadian Mental Health Association).  Adding on, mental health issues are disturbances or disorders of brain function. The causes are connected to a person’s genes and the environments around them. You don’t get to choose having a mental illness, and it’s not ok for teens with mental health issues to be shunned from society , because adolescence is already a very confusing time. Psychological issues occur at parallel rates around the world, and they can affect anyone, no matter what your culture, religion, race, or socioeconomic status. The data and statistics for this issue are shocking as 1 in 5 youth suffer from a mental illness, that is 20 percent of the population, but only about 4 percent of the entire health care budget is spent on our mental health(Teen Mental Health Org.).How to identify common mental health issues in teens? Normally,  adolescents/teens are frequently moody because of hormonal and physical changes that occur during puberty. However,  when mental illness is included, it might be hard to separate “ordinary high schooler behaviour” from the indications of depression, anxiety and other emotional difficulties. Along with the high school years comes drama. This is a period of new encounters, and what may appear like a little issue to a grown-up might be a major ordeal for a young person encountering it for the first time. Teenagers might be troubled when they are experiencing issues with boyfriends/girlfriends or when fighting with a companion, when they don’t do well on a test or for not having the best thing to wear to class one day. Teenagers are regularly oversensitive and unsure and have not created satisfactory adapting skills to appropriately handle occurrences like these. For these reasons, teens might encounter chapters of unhappiness, anxiety or frustration. These chapters ought not to last more than a couple days at most; and if these emotions are consistent and your teen is constantly ill or sad, then you should try and speak to them and consult your family specialist to check whether there might be a more difficult issue than typical high school problems. It can be hard to differentiate between indications of mental illness and ordinary issues that all teens encounter now and again. On the off chance that you start to stress that your youngster might be silently suffering or acting in a concerning way, however not enough to call a doctor you might need to converse with different parents or organizations  to contrast your teenager’s conduct with those of his or her peers.Some concerning behaviours include,-significant decrease in enjoying time with friends and family, decrease in school performance-significant changes in energy levels, eating or sleeping problems,-physical aches and pains-feeling hopeless,sad,anxious, crying a lot-verbal and physical aggression, lashing out,-disregard towards personal appearance and cleanliness.-substance abuse(drugs, alcohol)-overly suspicious of others-sees or hears things others don’tIt’s vital to remember the fact it’s important to analyze the: nature, power, seriousness and length of an issue before drawing any conclusions.It is also essential to talk to your child and let them know that you are there for them, and in the case that they have a mental health issue, its is important to accept it. Pride and denial can often get in our way of accepting that there is a problem with our child(Friends For Mental Health).What are the factors that affect a teen’s mental health? Good mental health is more than the absence of a mental disorder, it should be known as a state of mental health that allows you to flourish and thoroughly enjoy life. Everyone experiences ups and downs during their lifetime. The capability to deal with negative experiences varies for each person, and it determines your quality of life. There are many factors that affect the mental health and well being of teens. Some factors that affect it are:-Self esteem-Feeling loved-Confidence-Family break up or loss-Difficult behaviour-Physical illness-AbuseFirst of all, our self esteem is the importance we place on ourselves, our self appearance, and sense our sense of self worth.  People with a good level of self esteem are generally more positive and are satisfied with themselves most of the time. But if it is the opposite for someone, it will negatively affect their mental health and they have a more likely chance to encounter depression, anxiety and stress disorders. Next, when teens feel loved and accepted by their family and others around them, they are far more likely to feel good about themselves. It is also more likely that they will feel more comfortable, safe, and those factors lead to better ability to communicate and develop constructive relationships with others. When a person does not feel accepted, they are less effective at communicating their feelings and end up bottling everything up until it becomes too much too handle, and that is extremely unhealthy for one’s mental well being. Also, young people should be encouraged to explore their unique skills and abilities and should be raised to have confidence in themselves, but sadly this is not the case for many teens. Youth who are brought up to not have confidence in themselves and are constantly brought down, are very likely to have a negative attitude, negative outlook on life, and lead to unhappy and fruitless lives. Another factor that affects teens mental health, is the separation or divorce of parents, or the loss of someone close to you. It is critical to find ways to cope and adapt to the changes brought by these events. The way that grief is handled can affect young people negatively for many years to come. Additionally, physical illnesses and appearance often contribute to unsatisfactory mental health. A few physical causes (i.e., birth trauma, brain injury, substance abuse, etc.) directly affect brain functioning and contribute to mental illness. Generally, poor physical health can largely affect self esteem and the ability to meet your goals. Also, during adolescence teens gain weight and acne and their bodies are changing, which makes them more sensitive about their appearance. In such cases, receiving professional treatment for the physical problem and psychological effects is crucial to physical and mental recovery. Also, the mental well being of abused children is at a greater risk. This group of children are more likely to experience mental illnesses and issues during early childhood leading into adulthood. Abuse is not defined by anything as it can be psychological, sexual, physical and even verbal. Without regard to what type of abuse it is, it should not be tolerated because abuse causes low self esteem and self worth, depression, frustration and loneliness. These all are barriers to a happy life. These were only a small percentage of the factors that affect a young person’s mental health and affect their mental well being(Can We Talk, Canada).How should parents and  families deal with mental health issues? Going through puberty and high school is not an easy time for teens or parents. As children are navigating through various transitions during adolescence –physical, psychological, hormonal,social– the pressures and issue they encounter can all of a sudden seem very overwhelming. For a majority of teens  these changes and pressures can lead to various mental health issues. No matter how big or small the issue, they are all concerning, and some are even life threatening. Its is vital that parents and family members know how to deal with their kids and help them out in this confusing time, and know the red flags to look out for as well. Some key tips for parents are to constantly keep communication honest and open, understand that mental health issues are treatable, and to pay attention to their teen’s behaviour as well. On the topic of communication, children should feel safe to talk to their parents about anything, and the parent should be committed to discuss and touch on topics of importance and should be able to do so openly. To make their child feel more relaxed and not isolated, parents should talk about their own experiences and fears when they were going through this age to let their child know that they are not alone or going ‘crazy’. Adding on, parents need to understand that mental health disorders are treatable and sometimes even preventable. In the previous paragraph , the factors that lead to poor mental health are listed. If you follow some of the steps there some mental health issues like depression, anxiety and stress disorders can be prevented. You should supply yourself with information on common mental health disorders among teens and be aware of what you can do about it. Parents should also pay attention to the behaviour of their child. Abrupt changes in behaviour can be major indicator of serious mental health issues. Some mental health ‘red flags’ they should be alert for are:-excessive sleeping; could indicate depression, drug abuse, alcohol abuse; insomnia, difficulty sleeping or other sleep disorders.-loss of self esteem-abrupt loss of interest in things they used to enjoy before-dramatic decline in academic performance-weight loss/loss of appetite; this could indicate and eating disorder-out of character aggressiveness and and excessive anger; this could indicate sexual, drug or psychological problems.All these signs lead to some key mental health issues like depression, eating disorders, and drug abuse. If you have serious concerns, discuss them first with you child and then a professional(Healthy Children.org).What services are provided in peel schools to help teens with mental health issues? According to the Peel District School board, they are committed to the well being, safety and success of all students. They do all they can to ensure students are cared for including caring for their mental well being. On the peel website there is a list of Mental health resources for students. They encourage studets to self advocate by reaching out ot someone they trust when they find themselves discouraged or overwhelmed. It says that if a student is experiencing difficulty or struggling, they can contact the guidance counsellor, teacher, vice-principal, or principal. There is also a list of resources such as links to Teen Mental Health, Canadian Paedriatric Society and Kids Help Phone. But this does not seem like enough because many teens don’t feel confident enough to reach out and help themselves. Some ways we can help even more is set up programs at school during lunch like Healing Circles or group meetings where everyone can speak out without being judged, and help students flourish and make them realize that they are not alone and they shouldn’t feel isolated. You are not alone

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