Summary and Conclusion

Summary and Conclusion

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7384-5.ch006

Abstract

Adolescence is the transitional phase, which is formative, impressionable, and hence, vulnerable. The healthy development of adolescents depends on several interactive and complex factors like socio-economic and environmental factors in which they are born and brought up, the interpersonal relationships they develop with peers and adults, values of the community, and the available opportunities for education and employment. For the health management of adolescents, “psychological and interpersonal skills” need to be acquired to help them to communicate better, to make more informed and balanced decisions, to avoid risky situations, and to cope with stress as these life skills shape attitudes and ultimately lead to pro-social behavior and productive lifestyles. Moreover, the importance of designing health services that can attract and engage adolescents, create opportunities to discuss sensitive health and behavioral issues, and offer high-quality care as well as guidance for health promotion and disease prevention cannot be undermined.
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Key Facts

  • Adolescents represent one fifth of the global population; healthy and competent adolescents who enter the workforce can raise the economic productivity of a country.

  • Investing in the health of adolescents, in general, can help prevent the estimated 1.4 million deaths that occur globally every year because of road traffic injuries, violence, suicide, HIV and pregnancy-related causes in this age group.

  • It can also improve the health and well-being of many millions of adolescents who experience health problems such as depression or anemia.

  • Economists stress the importance of using this “demographic dividend” to reap the benefits of having a growing cohort of working age adults relative to the dependent population for national development. (United Nations Population Fund, 2013)

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Introduction

According to the World Health Organization (1995), “One of the most important commitments a country can make for future economic, social and political progress and stability is to address the health and development needs of its adolescents.” Adolescence is a time of major transition between childhood and adulthood. It is a period when significant physical, psychological and behavioral changes occur and when young people develop many of the habits, behaviors and relationships they will carry into their adult lives. The health system has a crucial role to play in promoting healthful behavior and preventing disease during adolescence.

The health of adolescents can be defined by traditional measures (mortality rates, incidence of disease and the prevalence of chronic conditions). A more complex and complete picture of adolescent health status, however, also encompasses the prevalence of various leading adolescent behaviors and health outcomes as well as health indicators that may adversely affect their health status in adulthood.

The period between 10-19 years of age is the period when one is young and still in a growing stage in an individual’s life. This is a period when the individual experiences a growth spurt in all areas of development i.e., physical, cognitive, social and emotional. Those in the age of 16-18 years are almost like adults. The period is definitely marked by rapid physical growth in the body and also change in body shape. The most noticeable changes in boys are broad shoulders, oily skin, facial hair, muscular body and cracked or deep voice. Similarly, girls have narrow waistline and wide hips, oily skin, enlarged breasts and shrill voice. Almost 25 percent of adult height and about 50 percent of adult weight are gained during this period. Thus, the importance of adequate nutrition and exercise, healthy and hygienic habits at this stage are important and obvious.

Growth is also occurring at a very rapid pace in the reproductive organs and release of hormones that is not properly regulated initially leading to mood swings. The beginning of the menstrual cycle in girls and wet dreams in boys can be all very frightening if correct and timely information is not provided to them. Lack of information or misinformation regarding these leads to many doubts, fears, confusion and worries. Myths and misconceptions abound among the adolescents.

On the emotional front, adolescents get anxious and imagine physical faults in their body structure and shape. This is mainly because they are preoccupied all the time with their body image. They spend a lot of time in making it acceptable to themselves. There is a strong attraction towards the opposite sex during this period. Rebellious thoughts; desire to break away from accepted social norms and the family, moods ranging from elation to depression, etc. are some of the other common emotions experienced by them. They need to be told repeatedly that all this is a normal part of growing up because adolescents find it difficult to understand and accept these changes. Somehow, they find solace in the company of peers. They feel that their peers are the only ones who can understand them and their problems.

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