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This article is more than 2 month old.

Why dedicated mental health services are crucial for young generation

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Optimal mental wellness is precursor and essential for optimal functioning and being productive as person and for nation at large. With fast paced changes in the world with mobility, internet and migration, poses a lot of newer challenges in the young and vulnerable group.

Why dedicated mental health services are crucial for young generation
Of the total world population, about 25 percent and nearly 1.85 billion comprises of young people of age 10-24 year, nine out of 10 of them live in the less developed countries. India has the world's highest number of this age group with about 360 million. A world changing at a fast pace carries special significance as it poses a challenge to mental health, especially for the young who are in a formative stage of life.
Optimal mental wellness is precursor and essential for optimal functioning and being productive as person and for nation at large. With fast paced changes in the world with mobility, internet and migration, poses a lot of newer challenges in the young and vulnerable group.
With high adoption of internet, the physical activity getting reduced, in person emotional exchanges and intimacies are mostly replaced by artificial sense of intimacy through the social networking platform. They spend a substantial part of their time on (mis) information through these platforms and simultaneously are exposed to high degree of cybercrime, cyber bullying and violent video games.
Behavioural addictions and cyberbullying are two important harmful effects of the modern digital age, which especially affect the young. Internet use disorder is now being recognized as a new disorder needing therapeutic interventions.
On the other side, children and young ones living in extreme poverty and living off street are subjected to vulnerabilities of no family support and stable home. They’re frequently exposed to harms due to drug/substance use, physical and sexual abuse, criminal behaviors and violence. Mental ill-health, substance use and violence in the young population are some important challenges faced by the society.
Recently concluded National Mental Health Survey of India estimates the current prevalence of mental disorders in the age group of 18-29 year at 7.39 percent (excluding tobacco use disorder) and lifetime prevalence at 9.54 percent. The prevalence of mental disorders (excluding SUDs) in the age group of 13-17 year is reported to be 7.3 percent. The young people also suffer a high rate of self-harm, with suicide being a leading cause of death. About half of the all-mental illnesses are known to begin by the age of 14 and three-quarters by mid-20s.
Ensure children and young people who show signs of mental illness get help early
Mental health is essentially linked to physical health and wellness. It is necessary to intervene early when children and young people show signs and symptoms of mental illness.
Consistent and engaging parental style, being in fulltime education, zero tolerance for bullying at school or digital platform, involvement in community activities, low levels of conflict in the family and social support have been recognized as the protective factors against mental illness. It is important that parents, families and communities play a significant role in listening to children and young people and supporting them to talk about mental health issues and bust the myths and misconceptions. This in turn will helps to address the problem early.
Raising community awareness about early signs of mental illness and/or substance use, need for their treatment, dispelling the associated myths and misconceptions, and providing easily accessible and affordable treatment facilities are crucial. Targeting educational institutions for raising mental health literacy both among students and teachers for early identification of depression and other mental health issues, substance use disorders, conduct issues, cyberbullying and suicidal risk will be a crucial step in this direction.
Need for insurance of mental health
Mental health should not be neglected as it has severe repercussions not only on the person and family but the society and its economy as well. For a nation like ours which depends so hugely on the young population for economic growth not just by consumption but mostly by making the youth productive, it’s crucial that a large scale strategically aligned policy measures are taken quickly.
It is a well-known fact that health insurance claims outlay mostly helps in raising the medical and treatment infrastructure across the nation. With mandatory inclusion of mental health cover by IRDAI has not only enhanced the awareness through health insurance but the insurance industry is also working very closely with policy makers to come up with better concepts and coverage of larger population under health insurance or specifically designed/structured products for mental illnesses to provide financial protection to the insured.
Most of the interventions in mental illness are OPD in nature whether counselling or medical intervention. The frequency and intensity of such intervention is case specific and hence Insuring oneself will always be fruitful.
Finally, when it comes to the mental health of our young generation, we must ensure good mental wellness apart from good physical wellness for all times to come.
The author, Rakesh Jain, is ED & CEO, Reliance General Insurance. The views expressed are personal
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