Why dedicated mental health services are crucial for the younger generation

Of the total world population, about 25 percent and nearly 1.85 billion are young people aged 10 to 24, nine out of 10 of them live in least developed countries. India has the world’s largest number of this age group with around 360 million. A rapidly changing world is of particular importance as it poses a challenge to mental health, especially for young people who are in a formative stage of life.

Optimal mental well-being is precursor and essential for optimal functioning and being productive as an individual and for the nation as a whole. With the rapid changes in the world with mobility, internet and migration, many newer challenges pose in the young and vulnerable group.

With the high adoption of the internet, physical activity is reduced, emotional exchanges and in-person intimacies are mostly replaced by an artificial sense of privacy through the social networking platform. They spend a large part of their time on (bad) information via these platforms and are simultaneously exposed to a high degree of cybercrime, cyberbullying and violent video games.

Behavioral addictions and cyberbullying are two significant negative effects of the modern digital age, which particularly affect young people. Internet use disorder is now recognized as a new disorder requiring therapeutic interventions.

On the other hand, children and young people living in extreme poverty and living off the streets are subject to vulnerabilities without family support and a stable home. They are frequently exposed to harms due to drug / substance use, physical and sexual abuse, criminal behavior and violence. Poor mental health, substance use and violence among young people are significant challenges facing society.

India’s recently concluded National Mental Health Survey estimates the current prevalence of mental disorders in the 18-29 age group at 7.39 percent (excluding smoking-related disorders) and the lifetime prevalence at 9.54 percent. The prevalence of mental disorders (excluding SUD) in the 13 to 17 age group is estimated to be 7.3 percent. Young people also suffer from a high rate of self-harm, with suicide being one of the leading causes of death. About half of all mental illnesses are known to begin at age 14 and three quarters in their mid-twenties.

Ensure that children and youth who show signs of mental illness receive help early

Mental health is essentially linked to physical health and well-being. Early intervention is needed when children and youth show signs and symptoms of mental illness.

A consistent and engaging parenting style, full-time education, zero tolerance for bullying in school or on a digital platform, participation in community activities, low levels of family conflict and support social have been recognized as protective factors against mental illness. It is important that parents, families, and communities play an important role in listening to children and youth and helping them talk about mental health issues and breaking down myths and misconceptions. This in turn will help to fix the problem at the earliest.

Raising awareness in the community of the early signs of mental illness and / or addiction, the need for their treatment, dispelling associated myths and misconceptions, and providing easily accessible and affordable treatment facilities is crucial. Target educational institutions to increase mental health literacy among students and teachers for early identification of depression and other mental health issues, substance use disorders, conduct issues , cyberbullying and the risk of suicide will be a crucial step in this direction.

Need mental health insurance

Mental health should not be overlooked as it has serious repercussions not only on the individual and the family, but also on society and its economy. For a nation like ours that depends heavily on the young population for economic growth not only through consumption but above all in making young people productive, it is crucial that large-scale and strategically aligned policy actions be taken quickly.

It is a well-known fact that health insurance claims spending primarily contributes to increasing the medical and treatment infrastructure across the country. The mandatory inclusion of mental health coverage by IRDAI has not only improved awareness through health insurance, but the insurance industry is also working closely with policy makers to come up with better concepts and better coverage of a wider population under health insurance or specifically designed / structured products. for mental illnesses to provide financial protection to the insured.

Most mental illness interventions are OPD in nature, whether it is counseling or medical intervention. The frequency and intensity of such an intervention is specific to each case and therefore insurance will always be successful.

Finally, when it comes to the mental health of our younger generation, we need to ensure good mental well-being in addition to good physical well-being for all times to come.

The author, Rakesh Jain, is Managing Director and CEO of Reliance General Insurance. Opinions expressed are personal

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