Young people between the ages of 15 and 35 in India are a valuable resource that is characterised by growth and development and is often influenced by several intrinsic and extrinsic factors that affect their health and safety. Youth, the critical period of life, is characterised by significant physical, physiological, psychological, and behavioural changes, as well as shifting patterns of social interactions and relationships. Youth is the window of opportunity for establishing a healthy and productive adulthood and reducing the likelihood of health problems later in life.
Most young people are assumed to be healthy, but according to WHO, an estimated 2.6 million young people aged 10 to 24 years die each year, and an even greater number suffer from illnesses or “behaviours” that limit their ability to grow and develop to their full potential. Nearly two-thirds of all premature deaths and one-third of all disease burden in adults are caused by conditions or behaviours that began in childhood (e.g. tobacco use, physical inactivity, high risk sexual behaviours, injury and violence and others). According to the most recent National Crimes Record Bureau (NCRB) data, over 1.39 lakh Indians committed suicide in 2019, with young adults constituting 67% of those who died.
Difficulties in managing the various, often strong and mixed emotions and mood fluctuations that accompany the encounter with new and ever-changing challenges in various domains is another risk factor for youth suicide, which is likely influenced in part by bio-neurological factors. Suicidal young people were also found to have poorer problem-solving skills than their peers. Their behaviour was characterised by a rather passive attitude in which they waited for someone else to solve the problem for them, both for simple and more complex interpersonal problems. Others attribute it to the rigid thinking process that is common in these young people. People who think in this way, also known as “dichotomy thinking,” experience events and express their feelings as completely “black” or “white,” completely good or completely bad, with little room for nuance and gradation. This also explains their self-image. This inability to solve problems and regulate moods frequently leads to insecurity, low self-efficacy, and self-esteem, but it can also lead to anger and aggressive behaviour, emotional crisis, and suicidal crisis, particularly when combined with perfectionist personalities.
What could be the causes and solutions?
The IT revolution has resulted in negative consequences such as decreased social interaction, physical activity, and intimacy, as well as a more sedentary lifestyle. Social networking platforms are increasingly replacing in-person interaction with an artificial sense of intimacy. The modern youth spends a significant amount of time on the internet and is exposed to information implosion such as cybercrime, cyberbullying, and violent video games.
Unfortunately, the age-old Gurukul concept had vanished, and Lord Macauley introduced the modern system of education into India in 1835. This new system was based entirely on unhealthy competition. There was a complete lack of personal and national character development, which includes mind management, intellect, ego, memory, and self (soul), moral conscience formation, and ethical training.
Another important issue that requires attention is the rise in violence among young people, as youth are both victims and perpetrators of violence.
Young people with MSUDs (Mental and substance use diseases), like their adult counterparts, face stigma, isolation, and discrimination, as well as a lack of access to health care and education facilities. A public health approach that focuses on both risk factor control and protective factor enhancement is required. Poverty, malnutrition, child abuse, mental illness in parents, family conflict, death of a family member, bullying, poor family discipline, academic failure, and exposure to violence are all common risk factors for MSUDs. Educational pressures, which are constantly reinforced by the family and society, have been identified as a factor in many suicides among young people in India.
Any strategy aimed at improving youth mental health must aim to bridge knowledge and service gaps and should include school-based programmes as well as community-based services. A critical step in this direction is to target educational institutions for increasing mental health literacy among students and teachers in order to detect depression and other mental health issues, substance use disorders, conduct issues, cyberbullying, and suicidal risk early on.
What psychological effects do advertisements have on young people?
In this day and age of advanced communication technologies, advertising is critical for shaping people’s opinions and interests. Adolescence is widely regarded as the most influential period of human life. TV advertising has evolved from being viewed as a powerful persuasive external tool to seeing adolescents as an easy target market.
To captivate the target audience, advertisers have used cutting-edge techniques such as cartoons, catchy jingles, graphics, celebrity endorsements, appeals, and taglines. Fast food, beverages, alcohol, smoking, luxury products in toys, dresses, cosmetics, cameras, bicycles, cars, and so on are common themes in adolescent-centric advertisements. Advertiser conditioning has long-term psychological and behavioural effects on adolescent viewers. Aggression, materialism, parent-child conflict, body dissatisfaction, obesity, smoking, alcoholism, depression, and impersonation of characters in advertisements are among them. The socio-psychological theory – Uses and Gratifications theory – assumes that audience members are active media consumers in such a scenario. When applied to advertising, UGT aids in conceptualising the gratifying elements found in advertisements.
The study discovered that advertising effects led to adolescents believing that desirable qualities such as beauty and happiness can only be obtained through material possessions. Advertisements, using special cameras and editing techniques, create unrealistic expectations in children, making them unhappy, and parental refusal to purchase any such product led to parent-child conflict. Scholars argue that child-directed advertising should be subject to stricter rules and regulations because its psychological effects can have long-term consequences.
Finally, when it comes to the ethical aspects of advertisements, studies show that adolescents are incapable of making mature decisions, controlling impulses, weighing the consequences of their actions, and resisting coercive pressure. Advertisers take advantage of this flaw. Advertisements display unethical practises such as using children to promote products or services that are not intended for them but are adult products. Some advertisements attempt to persuade children to buy the advertised product by providing free gifts or toys. Thus, studies suggest that tighter rules and regulations on child-directed advertising measures should be implemented in terms of legal, legislative, regulatory, and industry-based approaches such as child-friendly disclaimers, parental intervention, and restrictions on prolonged television viewing.
The following are flaws in the current educational system: Unfortunately, the age-old Gurukul concept had vanished, and Lord Macauley introduced the modern system of education into India in 1835. This new system was based entirely on unhealthy competition. There was a complete lack of personal and national character development, which includes mind management, intellect, ego, memory, and self (soul), moral conscience formation, and ethical training. One of the most significant disadvantages of this education is that it glorifies a money-oriented nature rather than an institutional concept that should provide students with holistic learning. It simply ignores or devotes little time to physical activity and the development of other skill sets (Practical Knowledge) that can help a student become a better person.
As parents and citizens of this country, we must work together to implement a new education policy in all schools as soon as possible, which is primarily designed to foster personal and national character and modern education with a focus on research and development.
Since childhood, our forefathers have shaped our minds in such a way that challenges, difficulties, and problems are defined as negative aspects to avoid, and a false notion is implanted in our minds that only academic studies can keep us safe from difficult circumstances, so study hard. Let us understand that education studies are important; don’t dismiss them, but claiming that they will not have difficulties in life forever is a big joke. Allow them to understand that life is a mix of good and bad, right and wrong, happiness and sadness, positives and negatives, hero and villain, success and failure. Opportunities and difficulties, peace and disruption are all complimentary.
Allow the child to learn the art of celebrating every obstacle they face. It means they must remain calm in all situations. We’ve seen how good times seem to fly by in comparison to bad times. Harsh situations appear to be never-ending. What is the cause of this? We resist bad times in the realm of intellect, so non-acceptance on the level of one’s mind creates the impression that it will last forever. And we are constantly thinking about it. In reality, however, this is not the case.
Consistent and engaging parental style, full-time education, zero tolerance for bullying at school, involvement in community activities, religious observance, low family conflict, and social support have all been identified as protective factors against MSUDs.