What are the particular Health issues facing adolescents today?
Being a teenager has never been easy. It’s a period in our lives full of challenges, of physical, emotional and mental transformations. But today, adolescents are faced with different health issues than those of previous generations.
The particular health issues that our youth face today related to sexuality, and mental health issues (increased pressure from the education system, bullying).
We think of being adolescent as being healthy but do they suffer from particular challenges?
The first health issue that comes to mind when thinking about the teenage years is the growing importance of sexuality. This comes with many challenges for our growing children: bodily changes, sexual identity interrogations, sexual transmitted diseases, unplanned pregnancy. Especially nowadays, teenagers are exposed to unrealistic ideas of sexuality through pornography online, and they are exposed to it younger and younger. It is important for parents to talk about sexuality with their teenagers and not let the internet and peers be their only source of information, or if parents feel uncomfortable, to bring their children to have a discussion with one of our health professionals.
Mental health is also one of the biggest challenges of adolescence. Studies have shown that in Singapore, 1 in 3 students reported being implicated in cyberbullying (either as a bully or as a victim). Adding bullying to the increased pressure of the education system and extracurricular activities, teenagers are at risk of depression, anxiety, insomnia. A telltale sign would be a teenager becoming isolated, secretive, and withdrawn. If this is happening to your child, try to listen to what he has to say or make an appointment to talk to a doctor or a counselor.
Being in Singapore generally our youth have a healthy lifestyle, however what health issues are Singaporean adolescents particularly at risk from?
Some of the biggest health issues that older generations in Singapore face are diabetes and high blood pressure. This is in part due to the lifestyle, food traditionally being very greasy and extremely sweet. Due to the incredible heat and humidity, it is also harder for people to engage in regular physical activity outside. Our teenagers also face these health issues: eating out a lot, increased screen time and study time, less physical activity.
It is really important to find ways to have our teenagers eat a healthy diet and engage in regular physical activity that they enjoy.
Dr Mélissandre Noël works at IMC Jelita. Dr Mélissandre is a Canadian doctor who graduated from the University of Montreal in 2009, and went on to complete a residency in Family Medicine at the University of British Columbia (2011). To book an appointment please call: 6465 4440.