Some of what I described for children’s health applies also to adolescents. However, in the growth spurt years and after the rise of male and female hormones, changes of the adolescent can be rapid and overwhelming to the youngster and demanding on the parents. The opposite sex will become very interesting and sexual activities are starting to be on the minds of both sexes. Prevention of sexual disease is obviously an important topic. Frank discussion between parents and children will have to include an emphasis on common sense, safe sex with condoms, and birth control, but also stressing the necessity to adopt a more cautious stance.
Instead of seeking sex without emotional attachment and going on a promiscuous journey, a lot of suffering and psychological problems can be prevented by responsible behavior. VD is not a funny problem that can be nipped with a few antibiotics, hepatitis is even more difficult to treat and AIDS is yet another very difficult to treat condition. Adolescents may inform themselves through the Internet, but also through more questionable sources from their peers.
The time of adolescence is not easy: here are all of the hormone stimulations from within (with a peak between the late teens to the late twenties) and yet important decisions need to be made regarding educational goals, finishing high school, going to college or university. Apart from this, physical activities in a gym and in organized sports are also desirable to keep fit and maintain heart and lung function at their optimal levels (cardiovascular fitness).
The adolescent time period is also a time where the danger of suicide is lingering ,especially if a growing up teen finds himself or herself in a situation that is difficult to handle. Life in this age group is fast moving, yet adulthood and independence has not been reached yet. As a result the adolescent can feel rejected, misunderstood and lonely. Negative peer pressure can contribute to this dilemma. The result can be anger at others, but it is not uncommon that the anger can become misdirected at him/herself. Faulty role models can lead to wrong choices. Experimenting with alcohol and drugs as well as promiscuous sexual behavior can add to more problems. Eating disorders in females are not uncommon. Self mutilation is also a disorder that is frequently observed. Guilt feelings can be adding to the emotional turmoil, and in extreme situation suicide can be perceived as the only way of getting away from the distressing thoughts or trying situations. It is important for parents and educators to be vigilant about early warning signs in adolescents that point to trouble. Open communication is of essence, and a positive, nurturing environment will often help. Nevertheless it is important to seek professional help and counselling for adolescents who become withdrawn and show signs of difficulties socially and academically. Early intervention here is as important as in any other situation that threatens to compromise physical and mental health.