World Mental Health Day: Troubled adolescents and cancer patients in focus

Health professionals put the spotlight on the hidden struggle that many endure alone, while many find their medical insurance provides little treatment or support

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The plight of adolescents struggling with mental health problems has come under spotlight for World Mental Health Day on October 10.

The World Health Organisation said this critical age group is "very much at the risk of being left behind" in development agendas of countries.

The UN body also said that in the "turbocharged" transition from childhood to adulthood these days, many young people are inevitably exposed to alcohol, tobacco, drugs and other negative influences.

"For a long time there has been an assumption – sustained by critical gaps in data - that adolescents are healthy," said Dr Princess Simelela, WHO's assistant director general for family, women, children and adolescents.

"Most of them indeed are, but much less so than we used to think."

The WHO said there needs to be greater recognition of the risks along with support for young people.

Closer home, The National is exploring the pressures of mental health that young people face in the UAE.

Marisa Kruppa, a 14-year-old German pupil living in Dubai, told of the difficulties of dealing with her parents' divorce while juggling school work.

Although Marisa was not bullied on the internet, she says it was a common occurrence in her peer group.

“I could only focus on the negatives, I didn’t think anything about how to get the best out of the situation," she said.


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Her mother Susanne described social media as a "sickness" that she believes leads to stress and worrying among many young people.

“I felt helpless as it is hard to monitor what is happening online. Running out of solutions was making me anxious and upset," she said.

There is also a need for greater recognition of mental health pressures faced by cancer patients, from feeling isolated to enduring the exhaustion of treatments such as chemotherapy.

Rose Nona, a Sri Lankan domestic worker, said: “The mental pressure was very great, and I could not have got through this without the support of my family here.

“I am still fighting for life, and if I hear someone is in a dark place I will try to help them.”


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