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Youth and Mental Health

Teenagers and young adults are unique and exciting individuals. Do you remember being a teen? And how it felt? Being young is a great feeling most of the time. But…the teen brain undergoes changes. A lot of changes.

A teen’s brain is dumping processes that it no long needs to improve it’s processing speed. These changes start in the “back” of the brain, and finish in the front part of the brain, known as the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for decision-making, planning, thinking through problems, and controlling impulses. Teens sometimes rely on the more emotional and impulsive section of the brain because their prefrontal cortex isn’t fully developed yet. And now you have a reason for the mood swings or risk-taking behaviour!

Teen Brain: Goodbye childhood, hello decision-making and multi-tasking.Along with these amazing brain changes, young adults also cope with school, extracurriculars, peers, becoming an adult, determining their future, a job, volunteering, parents, etc. There is a lot going on. Don’t believe me? Ask a teen.

Ask a teen what their schedule is like. It’s the reason why we included a Mental Health: Health and Wellness course in our Career Safety Education program, the free safety training program for youth between 14 and 21 years of age!

Another fact? Between 50% and about 70% of mental illnesses show up before the age of 18. Looking out for youth and young adults in society is important. It’s important to acknowledge their need for support.

Not sure if a teen in your life is experiencing a mental illness? It can be hard to tell the difference between mental illness and the transition to adulthood. The Mayo Clinic and a collaborative group out of British Columbia, Here to Help, both provide a fact sheet on identifying mental illness in youth.

You can also call the Canadian Mental Health Association-Saskatchewan branch at 1-800-461-5483 and check out the directory of locations in the province who can assist you in mental health.

How do you promote good mental health practices to the young people in your life?

-Merissa

 

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