Subject: Depression Is Top Global Cause of Illness & Disability for Teenagers
Agence France-Presse released an article: “Depression top cause of illness in world’s teens, WHO reports.”
Here are some excerpts:
Depression is the top global cause of illness and disability for adolescents, with suicide the third-biggest cause of death, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.
The finding is in a new report by the UN agency, which has pulled together a wealth of published evidence with direct consultations with 10 to 19-year-olds around the world to assess the health issues that affect them.
“The world has not paid enough attention to the health of adolescents,” says Flavia Bustreo, head of the WHO’s family, women and children’s health division.
Some studies show that half of all people who develop mental disorders have their first symptoms by the age of 14, said the report.
“If adolescents with mental health problems get the care they need, this can prevent deaths and avoid suffering throughout life,” it said.
Traffic injuries were the number two cause of illness and disability, behind depression, with boys three times more likely to die than girls.
WHO said it was crucial for countries to reduce the risk by increasing access to reliable and safe public transport, improve road safety regulations such as alcohol and speed limits, establish safe pedestrian areas around schools and graduated licensing schemes where drivers’ privileges are phased in over time.
Worldwide, an estimated 1.3 million adolescents died in 2012, it said.
The top three causes of death globally were road traffic injuries, HIV/AIDS, and suicide.
“We must not let up on efforts to promote and safeguard the sexual and reproductive health of adolescents, including HIV,” said WHO scientist Jane Ferguson, lead author of the report.
For adolescent girls alone, the second-biggest killer after suicide was complications during childbirth.
We must focus our intentions and efforts more on the pain and struggles of our adolescents. They are our future.
All parents want the best for their children. However, not every parent knows how to provide their children with the tools to be successful, happy, or how to help them avoid the biggest teenage behavior issues: substance use, delinquency, school dropout, peer pressure, social isolation, pregnancy and violence.
These problems can affect children for the rest of their lives. University of Washington researchers looked at 20 parenting programs and found five that are particularly effective at helping parents to teach their kids to avoid typical adolescent behavior problems that affect not only individuals, but entire communities.
“With these programs, you see marked decreases in drug use, reduced aggression, reduced depression and anxiety, and better mental health,” said Kevin Haggerty, assistant director of the UW’s Social Development Research Group in the School of Social Work.
“You see the impact of when parents get on the same page and work together to provide an environment that promotes wellbeing. You can make long-term impacts.”
Haggerty said it’s ironic that parents spend hours taking birthing classes to prepare for something that will happen naturally, yet there is no training on how to actually parent a child. He took a parenting workshop years ago and said learning how to deal with conflict changed his family’s dynamic.
“All of us need a little help parenting,” Haggerty said. “It’s a tough job and we didn’t get the instruction manual when our kids were born.”
The programs recommended by Haggerty and his co-authors are effective with a wide variety of families in diverse settings. All five programs are consistent with the Social Development Model, which focuses on fostering opportunities, skills, rewards for positive social behaviors, bonding and clear expectations for behavior.
The programs include changing known risk factors such as poor parental supervision and high family conflict, and show children what “normal” family behavior looks like. The programs also have scientific evidence showing that they work.
Nurse-Family Partnership sends registered nurses to visit young, first-time, single mothers at least once every two weeks during their first pregnancy and until their child is 2 years old. Nurses help expecting moms reduce smoking, drinking and drug use. After the child is born, nurses help mothers create safe environments for their children and develop strategies for dealing with difficult behaviors.
Positive Parenting Program is a flexible system of programs that focuses on five main goals: promoting safe and engaging environments, creating positive learning environments, using effective discipline, creating clear and reasonable expectations, and self-care for parents.
The Incredible Years teaches children ages 3-6, their parents and teachers skills and strategies for handling difficult situations. Parents participate in group sessions; children take part in therapist-led group sessions, which help children develop skills such as problem solving, making friends, and cooperating with others. (This program was developed by Carolyn Webster-Stratton, now director of UW’s Parenting Research Clinic.)
In Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14, parents learn about risk factors for substance use, parent-child bonding, consequences for not following parental guidelines, and how to manage anger and family conflict. Their children learn effective communication, problem solving, and how to resist peer pressure.
Staying Connected with Your Teen helps children 12-17 years old avoid risky sexual activity, drug use, and violent behavior. The program helps parents set strong norms with their teen against antisocial behavior by increasing parental monitoring, reducing harsh parenting, and rewarding teens to promote family bonding.
Haggerty and his fellow researchers hope local policymakers will pay attention to these and other scientifically-tested programs as they discuss investments in child and adolescent resources. He said it’s critical to invest in children NOW, before negative outcomes cost society more in the form of law enforcement, prisons, and physical and mental treatment programs.
Three Hours Is Enough to Help Prevent Mental Health Issues in Teens
Dr. John Schinnerer
Oct. 4, 2013
One in four 8 to 15 year olds have struggled with a mental health problem in the past year. Disorders, such as anxiety, depression and ADHD, are linked to a variety of negative behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse, sexual promiscuity, suicidal behaviors, cutting and violence towards others.
Now for the good news…researchers in Britain have found that 2 brief 90 minute group therapy sessions reduced the incidence of …
depression by 21%
anxiety by 33%
conduct problems in ADHD youth by 36%
The study was led by Dr. Patricia Conrod of the University of Montreal and found that teacher led groups discussing mental health were quite effective. Teachers were trained to deliver interventions to high risk students and the outcomes were compared with students in other schools which did not receive the same training (the control group). The two 90-minute sessions taught students cognitive-behavioral tools for managing their thoughts, emotions and personality type. The sessions included real life “scenarios” shared by high risk youths within their small groups. The groups talked about thoughts, emotions and actions within the context of their particular type of personality. For example, situational triggers for anger, sadness or anxiety were shared with the guidance of the teacher. Then productive ways to manage such triggers were taught and discussed.
According to Dr. Conrod, “Our study shows that teacher delivered interventions that target specific risk factors for mental health problems can be immensely effective at reducing the incidence of depression, anxiety and conduct disorders in the long term.”
Nineteen schools in Greater London were involved in the study, which included a control group of schools in which students did not receive any interventions. Students were evaluated for their risk of developing mental health or substance abuse problems using a well-known personality scale. The scale measures different personality factors that are known to be correlated strongly with behavioral issues. For instance, a person with high degree of impulsivity is five times more likely to demonstrate extreme conduct problems within the next 18 months. Key traits focused on included impulsivity, hopelessness, anxiety sensitivity and sensation seeking.
In the two years that followed the interventions, students completed questionnaires every six months that enabled the researchers to establish the development of depression, anxiety, panic attacks, conduct problems and suicidal thoughts. The effects were clinically significant. “The interventions were run by trained educational professionals, suggesting that this brief intervention can be both effective and sustainable when run within the school system,” Conrod said. “We are now leading similar studys in 32 high schools in Montreal to further test the efficacy of this kind of program.”
One of the questions that I frequently am asked by parents is ‘What video games should my child be allowed to play and for how long?’ I recently wrote up a short response for Parenting Magazine and thought I’d share it with you as it may be useful…
In response to your question regarding tweens and video games, there are two main issues – time spent playing and the content of the game.
First there is the amount of time spent gaming. I believe that this issue is about moderation. Limiting their play to 45 minutes to an hour on weekdays (assuming their homework and chores are getting done) and 2 hours on weekends is completely reasonable. For some of my high school clients, I agree to up to three hours on weekend days with the caveat that grades must be agreeable to parents, chores done, exercise accomplished and some amount of time spent with friends.
The second issue is the content of the games, or which games are ok to be played. With the popularity of first-person shooters such as Call of Duty (COD), Gears of War, Battlefield and so on, more and more research is coming out about the effects of what I would term high-violence games. The other types of high violence (or mature) games include fighting games such as Mortal Kombat as well as open world games such as Far Cry 3 and the soon to be released Grand Theft Auto V (GTA). These games are marked with an M for Mature on the outside of the box in which they come. These are inappropriate for tweens and perhaps, even teens. They include themes such as drug use, prostitution, shooting cops and more.
Recent research on the effects of such games is mixed. One study that came out in Dec. 2012 that showed that playing a violent video game three days in a row led to increases in aggressive behavior and hostile expectations over that same time. Other studies have shown that one session of violent gaming can increase shorter-term aggression. Whether this is enough to lead someone to take out a real gun and go on a shooting spree is quite dubious however. But I would keep tweens away whenever possible. This is likely more difficult for younger siblings who are exposed to such games by older brothers (typically.)
The flip side to this is research from this month that shows that playing certain games such as The Sims, Bejeweled or Hidden Expedition for an hour a day can improve cognitive performance on similar unrelated tasks. A study that came out in Feb. 2013, shows that action games help dyslexic children to read better as it helps with visual attention (which we’re finding to be a key deficit in dyslexic folks). Another study that came out this month showed that when we are frustrated in our efforts to cheat or steal many turn to video games in which we can safely do so.
It is a far more complex issue than most imagine. Largely because the mind is more complex than most imagine!
Hope that helps!
John Schinnerer, Ph.D.
Positive Psychology Coach
Author of the award-winning Guide To Self: The Beginner’s Guide To Managing Emotion & Thought
You are invited to a free Forum which everyone will be talking about tomorrow! Every month, two mental health experts, Drs. Michael Levin and John Schinnerer, with a Special Guest will be talking about your mental health and answer burning questions.
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Dr. Michael Levin is the Medical Director of East Bay Psychopharmacology Group and the Pacific Cognition Center with 20 years practice experience in the East Bay. Dr. Levin holds an MS degree in Pharmacology from New York Medical College and a medical degree from New York University School of Medicine. He is a board certified pediatrician with advanced training in Child Development and Psychopharmacology from UCLA-Neuropsychiatric Institute. Dr. Levin is the author of award winning educational books for young children The Reading Lesson, Verbal Math, and others.
John Schinnerer holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology from UC Berkeley and is the founder of Guide to Self. He is an award-winning author of Guide To Self: The Beginner’s Guide To Managing Emotion & Thought and anger management expert. He has consulted with companies such as Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health, and Pixar around issues of emotion and positive psychology.