The number of adolescents, who are depressed and prone to suicidal tendencies, has been on the rise, say counsellors

A 14-year-old boy spends all his time on the mobile phone and does not pay any attention to studies. He has become a reclusive, refusing to talk to anyone and is depressed, his parents feel.

The number of adolescents, who is depressed and prone to suicidal tendencies, has been on the rise here, counsellors and psychologists say. The reasons range from an increasing emphasis on scoring high marks, lack of support from the family, influence of popular culture and peer pressure.

With gadgets ruling the roost, many children from as early as class six have mobile phones and unrestricted access to the Internet.

“There is a lot of independence coupled with access to technology that most children enjoy these days. They attempt to imitate skewed concepts of love, heroism and relationships, which they learn from popular media. This can have disastrous results,” explains Dheep, Chairman of TopKids, youth/child guidance and counselling centre.

“While popular culture is a major influence in the lives of adolescents, lack of role models around them and their neglect by families cause concern,” adds Dr. Dheep.

Counsellors say that with competition becoming tougher and the emphasis on performing well in academics increasing, adolescents face extreme pressure to shine and have an edge over their peers.

Depressed

“Many students are often depressed about not being able to score marks and do well in schools since the emphasis on marks is very high. They are not taught to accept failure which bogs them down as well,” says Janet Shankar, associate professor at the Madurai Institute of Social Sciences.

With nuclear families replacing joint families, parents, who are focussed on their work, often do not realise that their teenage children are experiencing stress.

“There are seldom pleasant dinner table conversations and dining tables in most households have become conference halls,” rues I. Jegan, a motivational speaker and student counsellor.

“Depression and conflict can be resolved, if teens have adults around them who are willing to listen and help them ease the emotional burden,” he says.

An increasing number of educational institutions in the city have been appointing full-time counsellors to help youngsters.

“While a few teens might voluntarily seek the help of counsellors to resolve their problems, it takes time and bonding from the parents to identify depression,” says Dr. Dheep.

Counsellors

While institutions in the city have the provision to have counsellors, Dr. Janet says that there is a need to address the issue of adolescent depression in other areas of the district as well.

“Since most schools in rural areas do not have the provision to appoint a counsellor, teachers can be trained in identification of youngsters who need help,” she concludes.

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