Young People and Mental Health

Young People and Mental Health

Young People and Mental Health

Young People and Mental Health


Mental health problems and disorders among adolescents are an increasingly endemic problem, causing anxiety and distress for young people themselves, challenges for the health care professional, social worker, teachers and parents, and demands on the managed care system. This is the only book of its kind to offer a comprehensive yet accessible introduction to this topical and rapidly developing field.


Jane Hurry, Peter Aggleton and Ian Warwick

Adults with responsibility for young people may jokingly remark that 'mental health' between the ages of 10 and 20 is a rare phenomenon. the popular depiction of Kevin, a greasy-haired, chaotic and unreasonable teenager, in the British comedy series 'Harry Enfield and friends' (1997– 98) captures the essence of this cultural joke. However, behind the lighthearted stereotype lies a complex web of issues. Stanley Hall (1904), Anna Freud (1966) and Blos (1962) are among many to have characterised the period from about 12 to 20 years of age as adolescence, a highly charged and tumultuous stage of development. For these theorists, puberty, the upsurge of hormones and the bodily changes that occur at this time are the catalysts for emotional upheaval. It has similarly been argued by some sociologists and social psychologists, though from a different perspective, that adolescence is a period marked by stress and conflict in the family (Davis, 1940; Rice, 1975; Clausen, 1986; Simmons and Blyth, 1987). They have emphasised the rapidly changing social roles that confront young people and their families during adolescence: defining educational competence in high stakes examinations, developing intimate relationships outside the family, going to work, and moving towards attaining financial and physical independence.

However, much research in the last two decades has challenged this view (e.g. Conger, 1981; Dusek and Flaherty, 1981; Holmbeck and Hill 1988; Brooks-Gunn, 1989; Hauser and Bowlds, 1990; Buchanan et al., 1992; Offer and Schonert-Reichl, 1992). in particular, Offer and his colleagues, in a study of 6000 adolescents in ten countries (Japan, Israel, Hungary, West Germany, Italy, Australia, Turkey, Bangladesh, Taiwan and the USA), report that the majority of teenagers (approximately 80%)

Young People and Mental Health. Edited by P. Aggleton, J. Hurry and I. Warwick.
© 2000 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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