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Feeling low

Being in good emotional health enables young people to deal with the challenges of adolescence and eases the transition from childhood to adolescence and adulthood. Mental well-being in childhood is associated with social competence and good coping skills that lead to more positive outcomes in adulthood.

Many experiences can leave us in low spirits, such as academic stress, going through the developmental and hormonal changes associated with adolescence, relationship problems, bullying and illness to name a few. Poor diet, a lack of exercise and excess caffeine can also cause low moods.

Regularly feeling low can have a profound impact on a person’s life and may compound difficulties commonly associated with teenage years. Research has also identified a link between feeling low and a repressed immune system. While a persistent low mood can be an indicator of depression, which is associated with increased risks of substance abuse, unemployment, early pregnancy, academic underachievement and suicide in severe cases.

Policy recommendations

In schools, the resilience of children and adolescents can be enhanced by mental health promotion programmes:

  • Changing the school environment to promote positive behaviour and compliance with rules can lead to a sustained reduction in aggressive behaviour.

  • General cognitive, problem-solving and social skill-building programmes in schools can significantly improve cognition, emotional knowledge and problem-solving skills. This reduces internalizing and externalizing problems, and symptoms of depression. Programmes should be both universal and address the early identification of emotional problems.

  • Multicomponent prevention and promotion programmes that focus multiple levels - taking steps to change 1) the school environment, 2) improve students’ individual skills and 3) involve parents - are more effective than those that intervene on one level only.

  • It is also essential to reduce adverse childhood experiences such as abuse, neglect, violence and exposure to drug and alcohol misuse. This can be achieved by raising awareness, increasing recognition and rapid response strategies. Deprivation must be addressed throughout the community, with a special focus on those who are marginalized and excluded.

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