On My Mind
How adolescents experience and perceive mental health around the world
Adolescents in Jamaica contributed to this report, a companion to the The State of the World’s Children 2021.
Adolescence is a time of change, a time when young people step out of childhood and start thinking about their place in the world. It can be an exciting time. New friendships, relationships and opportunities may unfold, matched by a young person’s own developing strengths, talents and hopes for the future.
But adolescence can be challenging, too. Young people must navigate their way through rapid physical and emotional changes, growing responsibilities and evolving relations with family and peers. In the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, these challenges have only grown.
No wonder so many young people talk of feeling overwhelmed, sad, isolated, stressed.
But all too often, when young people talk, they are not heard; their feelings are dismissed as unimportant, self-indulgent or just a passing phase. When we – parents, families, teachers and broader society – treat young people this way, we are dismissing their needs and concerns. We are depriving them of the space and time they need to work through their feelings. And we are denying them the opportunity to engage actively in finding solutions.
To put it another way, if we want to better understand and support young people, we first need to listen to them.
This research project – along with so many others – has brought to the surface the mental health challenges that young people face. Nobody can any longer reasonably claim not to know. The real question now is: Do we care? And, if we do, are we prepared to act?