The word Adolescence is Latin in origin, derived from the word “adolescere”, which means, “to grow into adulthood.” “In all societies adolescence is a time of growing up, of moving from the immaturity of childhood into the maturity of adulthood, of participation for the future.” Adolescence is a period of transitions, biological, psychological, social and economic and from immaturity into maturity which occur universally; virtually without exception. Some of these passages are long and some are short; some are smooth and others are rough. And not occur at the same time. The fundamental challenges of adolescence which gives the period its special flavor and significance are onset of puberty, emergence of more advanced thinking abilities and transition into new roles in society. (Paul.D et al: 2006)
Problems and stress among adolescents
Although the changes during this stage are natural, some adolescents do develop maladaptive coping skills in accepting the developmental challenges. Therefore, this stage is also known as period of storm and stress. Problems of adolescents are increasing day by day in the present Indian society due to the impact of modernization and westernization and perhaps because of lack of proper guidance. Stressful experiences and efforts to cope with stress are central to understanding psychological distress and psychopathology during adolescence. Stress emerges for young people as they enter adolescence, a transition that brings rapid socio-emotional changes. The stress being experienced by teenagers can be classified as body change, family stress, peer stress, romantic relationship stress, school stress, and neighborhood stress. Unmanaged stress is effecting on an adolescent’s long term physical and mental well-being and been disrupting an adolescent’s capacity to handle the demands of daily life.
Coping in adolescence
The perceptions of stress, sources of social support, and use of coping strategies among adolescents would decide the later coping capabilities yet it is often poorly understood. Understanding the role and impact of stress is an important first step in the prevention and treatment of its associated chronic diseases. The youths adopt both avoidant and active coping styles for dealing with the stress in their lives. These complex animals, living complex lives are not always able to cope with the difficulties that they face. To help adolescents cope, finding ways to let them safely let go of the stress that they are experiencing or gain a greater understanding of the situation is important. We need to remember that coping actions are usually symptoms of deeper problems and addressing them directly can be ineffective or even counter-productive. The best approach is to discover the deeper cause and address them.
Role of intervention programmes
A thorough understanding of adolescent development in contemporary society depends on being familiar with numerous perspectives on adolescence such as Psychology, Sociology, Social Work and Anthropology whose chief purpose is the preparation of children for adult roles. Rather than viewing adolescence as having a specific beginning and a specific ending, it would be more sensible to think of the period as being composed of a series of passages biological, psychological, social and economic from immaturity to maturity. Adolescents who have certain resources-either internal (self esteem, healthy identity) or external (social support) are less likely to be adversely affected by stress. Therefore, preparing primary (family, friends) and secondary (teachers, health providers, counselors) support system is a greater responsibility of intervention programmes.
Each adolescent has an individualistic way of understanding their growth and development which influences coping skills either in a constructive manner or in a pathological way. Providing support for adolescents during their period of identity crisis and the attainment of adult autonomy had always been a challenge for social workers and many other helping professionals. In recent days the developmental demands for adolescents invite careful examination in the era of globalization. A need is felt to dissect this much- discussed developmental stage more closely in the context of Indian culture by revisiting the issues concerned to adolescents at present and analyzing the nature of their coping skills, psycho-social interventions need to be developed which intends to extend its implication in the form of psycho-education, student counseling, sex education, parent and teacher education, career guidance etc. The personality development in this stage is very crucial and important for the selection of future career. There is a close relation between the individual’s personality, behavior and his environment and there is an urgent need to understand and manage our environment.
The awareness activities for adolescents about these changes and the natural developmental process seek an emergence requirement. Even the professionals who deal with adolescents very closely especially teacher, health workers, and volunteers need to know this process clearly. Adolescents constitute almost 22% of our population. With the history of traditional condition, this group is getting affected by the rapid changes of socio-economic situations of our country. This is also leading towards developing unhealthy habits like substance abuse, immoral sexual relationships, sexually transmitted infections, etc. Further, the personality determines the attitudes and behavior, which in turn influence our abilities, awareness and so on.The negligence about education among rural and tribal folks also is effecting the development of nation. In this regard the awareness programmes about effective management of adolescence stage need to be designed. Wide varieties of skills related to physical, intellectual, interpersonal and emotional competence is required for healthy growth and development of adolescents. World Health Organization (WHO) has suggested a core set of 10 life skills such as self-awareness, empathy, interpersonal relations, etc. Needless to say that if these skills are effectively imparted to adolescents, several psychological and functional problems can be prevented and total well being can be promoted.
The social group work (as a technique of intervention)can be practiced with adolescents who have a common problem or difficulty as they feel accepted in the group and change is also more likely to happen in the group settings and health, sex and sexuality issues would to be focused during group intervention. Adjustment problems of adolescents are increasing day by day in the present Indian society due to modernization and westernization. It becomes essential now to develop good physical and mental health in youth to prevent adjustment problems during adolescent period of life to the fullest possible extent. As suggested in few research findings, an understanding of the development, maintenance, and enhancement of social competence is useful in determining how to help and protect adolescents from influences and assist them in reaching their optimal potential.
There is a need for a holistic interventional programme developed to examine the perceptions and assess the needs of adolescents. A situational analysis need to be conducted to understand the background and needs of the adolescents and a strategic plan needs to be developed and interventions need to be identified to meet the needs. Active participation of parents, peers, teachers, health providers and other stakeholders at each stage of the intervention programme has to be facilitated. Formation of groups of adolescents at local wards, counseling, community meeting, interaction with local influencers, teachers and parents, involvement of health care providers and a referral system for addressing the needs can be some of the strategies to be applied in handling adolescents’ developmental issues.
There is an appalling gap in the information services about adolescence issues. Creating an enabling environment, communicating through small community peer groups of adolescents, and youths with the help of parents, teachers, counselors and peers can make a significant change in the perspective and knowledge about developmental issues among the adolescent population. Such constituted local adolescent groups can be the excellent medium to reach other adolescents and educate them in the sphere of life.
Governmental and nongovernmental organizations need to increase the scope of work related to adolescents at both urban and rural levels. In the present scenario the necessity of counseling service for adolescents should not be minimized or denied. It is the responsibility of the government to take necessary steps to solve the serious problems of the adolescents and to create posts of professional and trained counselors for proper development of personality and formation of character of the adolescents who could be the responsible citizen of our country in the near future. n
PhD scholar, PG Department of Social Work, Karnatak University
Professor, PG Department of Social Work, Karnatak University, Dharwad.
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