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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Youth Mental Health Concern

The years between the ages of 10 and 24 have been considered in the past to be our healthiest years. The time that we are most active, eat more nutritionally, and have the best outlook on the possibilities of life. There is a study that was conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) that found that this chapter of peoples' lives may not be as healthy as we once thought. The researchers of the report found three main causes of disability in those ages 10 through 24, says researcher Colin Mathers, PhD, a scientist at WHO in Geneva.

The top three are:
  • neuropsychiatric disorders
  • unintentional injuries
  • infectious and parasitic diseases
The researchers at WHO disagree with the idea that the teenage years, right on into young adulthood, are at time of carefree spirit with relatively few problems arising in one's life. "It highlights that disability, particularly due to mental health disorders and drug and alcohol problems, are a big problem for adolescents, as are injuries and death due particularly to motor vehicle accidents," Mathers tells WebMD. "This is also a period when young people are adopting behaviors such as smoking, poor diet, and inadequate exercise which will lead to substantial problems in later life".

The researchers factored this belief from using what they called DALYS -- disability adjusted life-years. They consider estimates of both years of life lost due to premature deaths and years lost due to disability that are due to specific risk factors, like depression.

Worldwide, the three main causes of years lost due to disability for the entire age range, 10 to 24, and their contribution, were:
  • Neuropsychiatric disorders: 45%
  • Unintentional injuries: 12%
  • Infectious and parasitic diseases: 10%

"Increasingly, we are starting to realize the onset of about half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14," said Ken Duckworth, MD, medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), who reviewed the study findings.

The report is published online in The Lancet.

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