The teenage years are also considered the most awkward phase where they get exposed to external and internal stress. During this phase they grow mentally, physically, and socially all at the same time.
Pressure to be good at academics, sports, and social life stresses out the kids. They are expected to cope with these forces which they often find overwhelming. We should be mindful that they are less likely to manage their feelings than adults.
Teens face social issues just like adults but are more vulnerable to these challenges as they are going through changes both psychologically and physiologically.
Common Social Issues Faced By Teenagers
This article explores the top 8 social issues teens struggle with and the strategies we can adopt to ensure their mental health.
1. Mental illness: Anxiety and depression are becoming common among teenagers. These arise due to hormonal changes, peer pressure, and strain from fulfilling expectations. All of these factors put the teens under considerable pressure. If these issues are left untreated, they can affect their academic performance, and social life and in severe cases can lead to self-harm.
2. Peer and parental pressure: Family, school, and social environments of a child have a significant impact on their mental health. More often they are expected to perform well in academics, and extracurricular activities, and maintain great relationships with others. To be accepted among peers and need to fit in the society, stresses them out. Any rejection from others can lead to depression and anxiety and lifelong self-worth problems.
3. Underage sex: Almost 40 percent of high school students are sexually active, as per the Youth Risk Behaviour Surveillance Data. A survey taken in 2018 has shown that out of the 26 million sexually transmitted infections, more than half were among teens.
4. Substance abuse: Kids in their teenage years are generally inclined to explore and experiment with a lot of things. That includes the use of drugs and alcohol. Peer pressure plays an important role in it and most of the time these experiments end in addiction. Substance abuse in teens can negatively affect their mental stability and relationships with their friends and family.
5. Social media addiction: While there are a lot of benefits to social media, it can be problematic for several reasons. Despite connecting people, social media can increase the risk of isolation and depression in teens. Cyberbullying, exposure to explicit content, and violence are some of the worst outcomes leading to ill mental health and behavioral patterns.
6. Body image issues: During puberty, kids undergo drastic changes in the shape and size of their bodies and they struggle to get comfortable with it. The pressure of being called names like fatty and skinny increases mental pressure, creating problems like eating disorders and excessive exercise, and can lead to severe health problems.
7. Low self-esteem: Intense pressure from the parents and society takes a hit on self-esteem during puberty. Exposure to social media exposes them to believing in picture-perfect bodies and increases the need to measure up. With this constant reminder, their self-esteem burns out. It affects the kid’s confidence and social engagement.
8. Bullying: In the past, bullying was limited to the school environment, however, now, it is also common online in the form of cyberbullying. With the anonymity of the internet, hurtful comments can spread quickly, leading to exponential damage and long-term emotional trauma.
What Can Be Done To Ensure Their Mental Well-Being?
The first step that the parents have to do is to establish open communication and maintain it. Allowing your kid to open up about their problems is in fact the first step in solving them. Next, let them understand and test their boundaries, this can bring better results in academics and behavior.
Followed by encouraging them to reach out to outside support like counseling and therapy if needed. Also validating their feelings, and their accomplishments is crucial in maintaining their self-esteem.
Help them to identify their weaknesses and strengths and do not forget to appreciate who they are. Next, educate the kids on underage consumption of alcohol and drugs and the dangers of underage sex. Finally, if the situation goes out of control, parents should not hesitate to seek professional help.
Teenagers go through a lot of stress factors leading to unhealthy habits and mental issues. The possible causes of these issues are trauma, social environment, and hormonal changes. However, it is difficult to identify the cause.
Thus, parents have to pay close attention to their child’s behavior to identify the cause and find ways to support them in overcoming their challenges.