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November 02, 2018 Friday 11:28:40 AM IST

Twenty-one -year-old Mr. S., a typical ‘new gen’ youth, came to seek help to come out of his loneliness. He wanted to find out ways to spend time with his family, as it was not happening due to several reasons.


Mrs. R. came to my clinic after feeling stressed. She was not getting sound sleep during the past two years. A detailed analysis of personal history revealed that she did not have enough time to relax. She had to spend the time meant for her sleep also for the sake of the family.


Child A’s complaint was that parents were not allowing her to watch her favourite cartoon show.  Her parents had reduced the time allotted to watch the video programme since her performance at school had declined.


In A’s case, the parents claimed that they were spending enough time with their children, but the ground reality was something else. Both were working parents. They reached home by 7.30 p.m. after which though all the family members were at home, they used to take rest separately, glued to their own gadgets, till late night when dinner was served, before going to sleep.


I am sure there were occasions when every one of us felt that the daily hours were not enough to complete the day’s tasks. When life gets busy, things tend to pile up fast, and we may lose control over time management, being unable to find enough time for matters most important to us.


Research indicates that people compromise on their sleep mostly to manage their time, but its long-term effects include insomnia, anxiety and other health issues.


 “I am stressed” is a phrase that has been echoed over the years by youth in general. People often underestimate the level of stress undergone by the youth and may not always be aware of the potential consequences of stress. Distressed youth often go through a negative phase in confronting social problems and are prone to adopt a negative path to solve them. Youth identified with internalising (anxiety, depression, fear, loneliness) or externalising (anger, aggression) problems may react to social problems differently.


Research has indicated that mental health problems affect 10-20% of youngsters worldwide. Despite its relevance and long-term effects throughout life, mental health needs of youngsters are neglected, mainly due to stigma attached to it, apart from other socio-cultural factors.


The World Health Organization’s (WHO) aim for 2018 World Mental Health Day (October 10) was to focus on ‘Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World’. The theme this year is very relevant because unless stress experienced by youth is identified and managed, it can lead to mental disorders. Many young people experience poor mental health due to inadequate support system. We need early detection and intervention to help reduce such cases.


There are a few tips for wellness of the youth…


Prioritize your time

As busy working parents/employees/students, many of us struggle to find time to spend with others.

Being in a time-strapped world, having multiple overlapping commitments, it is better to learn about a strategic way for time management as an effective method of allotting priorities. ‘Covey’s time management grid’, a popular and effective system, could be considered as a model for the purpose.

There are 4 quadrants in it -- based on urgency and importance.






Q1 (immediate, important deadlines)

Q2 (development of long- term strategies)


Q3(Demands pressed for time, not really important, but some want it now)

Q4 (those activities that yield little in value).


 Now, do the maths!


 We all have 24 hours in a day; no matter who you are.

 That is 168 hours in a week.


If you go to sleep at 11 p.m. and wake up at 6 a.m., you have 119 hours, being awake in a week.



Where do you invest this time?


Work hours =?

Family / Partner hours =?

Leisure hours =?


Now prioritize.



‘We time’ (quality time), not ‘e-time’ (electronic/gadget time)


Let us look at quality time in a little more detail. What is quality time as compared to quantity time?


Quality time is more important for a healthy relationship than quantity time.

Quantity time is the amount of time spent between two people.

Quality time is the undivided attention between two people, expected to produce positive influences.


An analysis of issues concerning relationship of couples, youth and parenting challenges has indicated the reasons as to why relationships have been falling apart. Even though the family members are doing everything right, they fail to spend time together!

We should understand that we cannot create or demand magical moments of love all of a sudden in any relationship.

We cannot tell a child to open up emotionally, all of a sudden, as demanded by others.

We cannot expect our youth to suddenly share everything with parents.

To achieve this, one should cultivate the culture of ‘Quality Time’ in relationships.

Research shows that spending quality time has significant effects on improving the state of well-being, and boosting self-confidence and happiness.


Tips to practise Family Quality Time.


      Relax yourself

      Work in the company of spouse, parents, children and spend time just talking, without criticising.

      Have meals together and indulge in fun activities together.

      Be completely involved (avoid multi-tasking during quality time)

      Be a role model

      Be supportive.

Quit behavioural addictions

Behavioural addiction (also called process addiction or non-substance related addiction) is a recurring compulsion by an individual to engage in some specific activity, despite harmful consequences on health, mental state, or social life. For example, shopping would be considered an addiction when it becomes an integral part of one’s life, to the extent of leading to bankruptcy.


Other behavioural addictions include use of internet, videogames, TV, mobile, or getting engaged in activities such as eating, sex, exercise and gambling in a compulsive manner. When one feels that something is controlling one’s life, or when one has a craving for getting involved in it repetitively/compulsively, despite being aware of the consequences, it can be considered a behavioural addiction. Identify behavioural addiction and quit it before it controls your life.

Any act/behaviour/habit that can make you happy, healthy and feel good can be considered a positive addiction. Practise positive addictions and feel positive in life.

Improve your well-being

Mental health is an essential part of holistic well-being. Good mental health is central to the youth’s healthy development and is associated with

·  Feeling good and positive

·  Enjoying life

·  Maintaining healthy relationships with family and friends

·  Participation in physical activities

·  Eating a healthy diet

·  Ability to relax and have adequate sleep

·  Community living, with a participatory role and sense of    belonging.


One can set meaningful goals, align to life’s purpose and achieve well-being by building up intelligence around your emotions, beliefs and values. If you know how to connect with others and benefit from that exchange, you will be more aware of yourself and others around. You will be better placed to learn from own experiences, prepared to learn more, accept yourself and be of service to others.


Building mental resilience among youth

There is a growing awareness on the need for helping young people build mental resilience, in order to cope with the challenges of today’s world. Promoting and protecting mental health among youth would benefit the workforce, their families, communities and the society as a whole.

Much can be done to help prevent mental distress among youth. Prevention begins with being aware of the early warning signs and symptoms of distress. Efforts are required to be taken by parents, teachers, health workers, community organizations and government to enable them to detect and manage mental distress.

Organisation of comprehensive and integrated programmes is essential for the mental health of young people. The initiative should be linked to programmes to raise awareness among adolescents and youngsters on ways to look after their mental health and to help peers. Parents and teachers should also be involved in the programme to extend support to the needy.

To conclude….

Let’s talk about mental health, and encourage young people to talk about their pain.

Let’s be kind to ourselves; take care of personal, physical and psychological health so that youngsters could take pride in ensuring own well-being.  



The writer is Clinical Psychologist, Rajagiri Hospital, Aluva

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