On dealing with youth mental health

A child’s behavior changes due to a number of different reasons. But sometimes, it could also be a sign of mental illness. Unfortunately, mental health problems are increasing among the youth. Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) says that 10 to 20 percent of children and adolescents experience mental health conditions, and a lot of them do not ask for help. Because children do not communicate as well as adults, and teens sometimes keep it to themselves, it may be difficult to approach and communicate to them when their actions are becoming unusual. For this article, Integrative Nutrition health coach and Inner Child therapist Sapna Uttam sheds light on youth mental illness and shares tips on how to communicate to your child or teen. Sometimes, it is not just a phase anymore.

Fifty percent of all mental health conditions start by 14 years of age, according to WHO. Among those are emotional disorders such as anxiety and depression, behavioral disorders such as ADHD (attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder), eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, psychosis, risk-taking behaviors, and suicide/ self-harm. Causes of development of such disorders may vary and can come from biological factors such as genetics, disease, or substance abuse, or environmental factors such as peer pressure, bullying, unstable home life, academic problems, trauma, and now, even social media. If left untreated, these can lead to physical pain, strained relationships, difficulty in school, high-risk behaviors, substance abuse, and even suicide.

BEHAVIOR SPECIALIST Integrative Nutrition health coach and Inner Child therapist Miss Saps Uttam

There are also various reasons mental health illnesses are underdiagnosed. It could be the lack of information, limited or no access to mental health practitioners, financially incapacity for treatment, and the stigma, or the discrimination and shame toward having a mental illness. This is why it is important to identify it early on, address it properly, and help them seek help. The A-C-T acronym shows us how.


Show love and affection toward the child, says Sapna Uttam. This may encourage them to talk about their fears and worries when they know that their parents or guardians are there for them.


Everyone copes differently, and Sapna Uttam’s advice is that it is important to remove judgement and labels. Assure the child or teen that everything will be okay, says Sapna Uttam. For teens who sometimes keep to themselves, what is important is that they know you are always ready to listen and support them.


Teach them to nourish their body well. Sapna Uttam recommends fruits and vegetables that provide nutrients essential for both the body and the brain. Eating well and having a balanced diet supports proper physical, mental, and emotional development. Getting adequate sleep is key as well, as this is the time when the body detoxes to prepare it for the next day. And also, being one with nature is good, says Sapna Uttam, and this is by taking the time to breathe in fresh air and get a little sunshine. Lastly, teach them to learn how to love their body, their mind, and themselves.  A lot has changed when it comes to recognizing that mental health is as important as physical health. Slowly, it is losing its stigma as more people are coming out to encourage other individuals to seek proper help and care. But it should not end there. As Sapna Uttam says, “everyone wants to be loved, appreciated, and held”—and that is true. Good mental health always begins at home and emotional wellness should be taught early on. Children, as much as adults, also have a need to be heard, supported, and encouraged, and that they should be provided the love, guidance, and security that they need. These would help them develop self-love and self-confidence as they face life’s challenges later on.

Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2021/04/13/it-is-not-a-phase-it-is-mental-illness/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=it-is-not-a-phase-it-is-mental-illness)