The paper 'Does the Family Form Impact Mental Health of Adolescents?' is an excellent example of a research paper on family and consumer science.
My research touched on families in India and Canada, where the aspect of the family has an overwhelming effect on the growth and development of adolescence. In the number of cases that I reviewed, adolescent children are adversely affected, resulting in mental health challenges. There is a global indication of several cases of adolescent children who suffer from mental illness. However, the matter is always concealed and remains behind closed doors. It is the main reason that I felt motivated to generate more awareness on this topic in support of adolescents who are suffering in silence. (Shimkowski, 2012)
In my initial presumption, I thought that divorce was the prime reason that adolescents suffer from mental illness. However, my research revealed that adolescents suffered from anxiety and depression in a similar nature to those (adolescents) who lived with divorced parents. Though my initial research revealed that divorce was not a prime factor for mental illness, further investigation found that the parents that discuss the aspect of divorce with their children, serve to improve their (the children) well being, as well as the relationship with their parents.
The data obtained has broadened my outlook on the nature of mental illness and its development in adolescents (Ledbetter & Schrodt, 2007). The fact that the topic or disease is kept concealed, may serve as an indication of how the disease may have an adverse effect on children among their peers and their social status. As I delved further into the topic, I managed to develop several elements that have been attributed to the impact of mental illness in society and why it has become a well-kept secret.
Modern society can be considered to be influenced by what an individual will see on television. This is apparent in the world and the stage of adolescence. The focus on what they see or what they are told has become a pivotal factor in the world of an adolescent. Failure to become part of what they see or what their peers are doing makes them feel alienated or like outcasts. As a result, this becomes a catalyst for mental illness, and it has an impact regardless of which side of the issue an adolescent is.
For instance, peer pressure forces children to do certain things, which may involve a change of identity. If a child agrees to change their persona and succumb to peer pressure, he or she instantly becomes a different person. This can be classified as ‘being someone you are not’, and may affect the child since they are not comfortable with who they are. As the situation continues, it mentally affects the child and eventually, they do not know who they have become, or they dislike their new personality. It results in a child suffering from mental illness (Wynne & Ross, 2010).
On the flip side, if a child does not bow to peer pressure, he loses credibility to their peers and they are considered boring or un-adventurous. Their rejection by peers means they are outcasts and establishing friends is difficult. Eventually, they become part of the other outcasts, who may suffer from depression (from rejection), which culminates in mental illness.
Based on my research, it revealed that this is the cause of over 40% of the cases of mental illness, and it creates a difficult situation for the adolescents, as they are unsure of what they should do. In other cases, some may get advice from their parents, but they disregard it because they feel that they (children) are always misunderstood, concluding that the advice is misleading. In the long run, they may realize that their parents’ advice was right and should not have been disregarded (Tamara & Tara, 2010). In other situations, parental advice is considered archaic and does not apply to modern society, yet their experience proves to be relevant to the situations that their children may go through at any given time. This indicates that mental illness can be avoided through listening to advice, even though in some scenarios it is disregarded due to poor judgment.
Divorce is a major factor in mental illness in college students. In Canada, the college students that live in a broken family (divorced and separated parents), become stressed and unhappy with their lives (Ross & Miller, 2009). This is attributed to the case that they travel from place to place due to separations. An additional factor is their parents having intimate relationships with other people because of their separation. College students become disillusioned with life, and the lack of unity in the family creates a lack of trust, resulting in the students suffering in silence, as they do not know whom to interact with.
Such is the impact of divorce that suicide has become a reality for college students. I could not establish the percentage of how many students would want to commit suicide; 4% of college students in roughly 70% of colleges in Canada would consider ‘ending ties’ with their parents. 20% were very uncomfortable with having their parents having relationships with other people, and 30% dislike the notion of having step-parents. The general consensus from the adolescents is that they wish to live in a united family to establish a sense of closeness, where they can seek guidance and advice from both parents together.
In India, the case is different, as several children wish they could escape. Girls fear arranged marriages to strangers who they are not willing to marry and in some cases, they are sold to other families. This is the main reason why several parents wish for many daughters, with the aim of selling them for a good price (Shimkowski, 2012). It may sound inhumane, but it is part of the Indian culture, hence embraced by most social circles. The fear of being sold to a foreign family may instill fear in young girls, who may be sold as young as thirteen, depending on the desperation of the parents. However, this is not the only fear or anxiety that adolescent children face in India.
The man is the prime leader of a family and what he says is final. Some decisions may go against the preference of the women of the family including the girls. Some fathers tend to be ruthless in the governance of their families, instilling strict rules that must be followed without question. The dictatorship may result in children living in fear rather than in the comfort of their own families and this factor can result in anxiety, fear, depression, and even possible suicide (Amato, n.d). The general problem is the fact that children are not comfortable or even safe in the one place they consider safe, their family (that they are born in). If they are not safe at home, then there is no place safe in society, which prompts some children to look for easy ways to escape. That is the reason why suicide is considered by some adolescents as a probable solution.
In India, the research shows that the majority of college students are comfortable with their families, more so because of the low levels of divorce (roughly 7%, in contrast to 19% in Canada). However, several of the girls are fearful of their status, be it in their families or possibly arranged marriages (30% of the girls are fearful of their future). However, some have accepted their fate because it is part of the Indian culture; modern society has created a new perception for Indian girls on how they should live their life, which is something that several of them yearn for (freedom of choice). ((Tamara & Tara, 2010)
Child abuse is another factor that promotes mental illness. It is the major element that has encouraged stakeholders to advocate the banning of corporal punishment for children. It is reasoned that this has an adverse effect on children and their development in life. Child molestation is another form of child abuse. It is difficult for a child to ever recover and this has been a significant catalyst for adolescents to develop mental illnesses. Some college students are forced into doing sexual favors for money so that they can afford to enter college.
The countries provide a vital illustration of how mental illness in college students is not simply limited to divorce. Mental illnesses can be deemed to be influenced by a child’s background, especially the cultural background. The nature of the causes of mental illnesses in adolescents has prompted them to conceal the matter, and create the illusion that they are fine when they are in despair. It may be out of habit, as well as the influence of their situation and influence from parents and other adults. Mental illness can be devastating to a college student, and hence the reason they should talk about it or share their problems with another individual.
Shimkowski, J. R., & Schrodt, P. (2012). Co-parental communication as a mediator of interparental conflict and young adult children's mental well-being. Communication Monographs, 79(1), 48-71.
Ledbetter, A., Ohrt, J.,& Schrodt, P. (2007). Parental Confirmation and Affection as Mediators of Family Communication Patterns and Children’s Mental Well- Being. The journal of family communication, 7(1), 23–46.
Ross, L., & Wynne, S. (2010). Parental Depression and Divorce and Adult Children’s
Well-Being: The Role of Family Unpredictability. Children’s Journal. 19, 751-761.
Tamara, D. & Tara, M. (2010). Divorce Disclosures and Adolescents’ Physical and Mental Health and Parental Relationship Quality Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 51, 83–107.
Ross, L.T., & Miller, J. R. (2009). Parental Divorce and College Students: The Impact of Family Unpredictability and Perceptions of Divorce. Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, 50, 248–259.
Amato, R. P. (n.d). Research on Divorce: Continuing Trends and New Developments. Journal of Marriage and Family, 72, 650 – 666.
Schrodt, P. & Ledbetter, M. A. (2007). Communication Processes That Mediate Family Communication Patterns and Mental Well-Being: A Mean and Covariance Structures Analysis of Young Adults From Divorced and Non-divorced Families. Human Communication Research, 33, 330–356