It’s World Mental Health Day. The focus this year is on “Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World”. Sanford House is an adult addiction treatment center, but our clients are oftentimes battling the trauma they experienced in their youth. Also, young brains are growing and developing until the mid-20s. And about 40% of our clients are between the ages of 18 and 25. So we are well aware of the exigencies of growing up in today’s “changing world”.
Evidence shows that children who drink by the age of 13 are more likely to experience alcohol addiction in later years. (As well as more school absences and worsened grades while in school). Alcohol and drugs affect memory, learning ability and attention span. And because the brain and internal reward system is still being developed until the age of 25, the young are especially vulnerable to temptation and long-term brain compromise.
Mental health, alcohol and drugs and the young brain…
43% of young people drink alcohol to “cope” and forget about their problems. 25% of those with mental health issues such as anxiety disorders and obsessive compulsive disorder drink or drug as a means of “self-medication”. And young drinking increases the chance of other risky behaviors such as: driving while intoxicated, smoking, use of other drugs and unsafe sexual practices.
Trauma and/or early alcohol use increases the vulnerability for substance use disorders. Studies show that if no one drank before the age of 25, alcohol use disorder (and its co-occurring effects) would be cut in half. Sanford House founder Rae Green, JD, CAADC
We can’t say it any better than the World Federation for Mental Health :
“Imagine growing up in our world today. Constantly battling the effects of human rights violations, wars and violence in the home, schools and businesses. Young people are spending most of their day on the internet – experiencing cyber crimes, cyber bullying, and playing violent video games. Suicide and substance abuse numbers have been steadily rising, LGBTQ youth are feeling alone and persecuted for being true to themselves and young adults are at the age when serious mental illnesses can occur and yet they are taught little to nothing about mental illness and wellbeing.
The World Federation for Mental Health is focusing the 2018 WMHDAY campaign on Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World. We want to bring attention to the issues our youth and young adults are facing in our world today and begin the conversation around what they need in order to grow up healthy, happy and resilient.
Lets all use this year to emphasize the needs of our young people. Its time to take a stand and demand more for this vulnerable population – our future depends on it! World Health Organization #WorldMentalHealthDay”
The words to keep in mind today are: prevention and education…
The vision of providing education that will prevent the disease of addiction is key to the Sanford House mission. In that regard, many staff members provide outside addiction education, advocacy and community outreach. We collaborate with local organizations such as: Families Against Narcotics (FAN), The Alano Club and I Understand, Love Heals, etc. And we are often in the community presenting the program “Addiction – Prediction, Prevention and Treatment” to therapy groups, women’s and men’s organizations, colleges and universities, high schools and corporations.
Top of mind is also “protection”. Protection for all those who are vulnerable and turn to alcohol and drugs for solace…