More than half of young people could have a mental health disorder before the age of 25 according to a new study. These conditions are mostly mood disorders, anxiety, abnormal eating habits and alcohol abuse according to research published in the “Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine”
The study involved a large representative sample of young people, across the whole economic divide, from schools in north county Dublin. Children were initially interviewed at age 12-15 and then interviewed again when they were 19-24 years old.
The research found that 28.4% had mood disorders, 27.1% suffered anxiety and 22.7% had substance abuse disorders. One in four had more than one problem.
Personality disorders were found in 2.3% while lifetime prevalence of binge-drinking was 75% and cannabis use 65%.
The results underline the importance of early intervention in order to give young people the best chance to get on with having full, productive and normal lives according to the College of Psychiatrists in Ireland.
Other research shows that family is central to a young person’s mental health because the majority of mental illness begins in childhood and adolescence. What the research highlights is that young people do not seem to cope with modern life. Most young people now are just learning virtual relationships on screens and are not learning relationships with their own self. They live in the reality of other people on screens with the result that they do not appear to be able to cope with their own reality.
This is having serious consequences for our young people and I am not being paranoid when I predict that we have a tidal wave of mental health issues for young people coming in the next ten years.
The sad reality is that we do not have the mental health services to cope with this rising tide. There is hope however and this hope lies in the family. If we can just educate parents and society just to live life more consciously, family can play a very important role in helping our young people.
In my programme “Manage Your Life by Managing Your Mind”, the great feedback people come back to me with is their “wonder” at how simple it is to be well if you have the right tools.
We need to learn to sit back and take a breath as a society, because all the signs and research are now telling us, that we are on a fast track to poor physical and a mental health tsunami if left unchecked.