The Importance of Preserving Youth Agency in Mental Healthcare

Treating younger people with mental health problems is still being researched to better understand how to help them. The primary focus was for younger people who report symptoms like hearing voices or feeling more paranoid, symptoms of several more serious mental health issues (during the teenage years and early 20s tend to be when disorders like schizophrenia start to show). Often younger people are largely told what to do, which leaves them feeling less engaged or interested in their treatment. 

With mental disorders being diagnosed more often among younger people over the last decade, finding more effective methods of treatment has become critical. The reports found that when younger people were more actively engaged in their treatment, having more of a say in what was needed, the results were better than when they were simply told what to do. 

The way of approaching treatment is important to ensure that the patients don’t feel oppressed. When clinicians seem to disregard or dismiss the ideas and concerns of their patients, the patient is less likely to feel the clinician is a credible professional. The relationship between the medical professional and patient is essential to successful treatments; if the patient doesn’t trust their professional, they are far less likely to follow through with treatment or to believe what they are being told. Young people who have different perceptions or beliefs need to feel they have agency when dealing with medical professionals. Feeling that they have some say or input will help younger patients to start to question their different perceptions and beliefs. 

This opens the door to being able to positively influence them. Feeling that they have an ability to affect their own world, not simply be told what to do, is important for the young patients to feel less ostracized and rebellious. This can be difficult because young people and those with mental illnesses are often dismissed or largely ignored, which often leads adults and medical professionals to not treat the patient’s words with the same weight as they should. Working with patients to establish a co-constructive treatment and narrative can help them to be more engaged in their treatment, increasing the likelihood of a more positive outcome.

To learn more about the latest research on mental health for younger people, check out the full article at The Importance of Preserving Youth Agency in Mental Healthcare.

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