Girl Power! Is Good Mental Health
GIRL POWER! is paving the way for girls to build confidence, competence, and pride in themselves, in other words, enhancing girls' mental wellness. Girl Power! is also providing messages and materials to girls about the risks and consequences associated with substance abuse and with potential mental health concerns. For instance, did you know:
- Girls are seven times more likely than boys to be depressed and twice as likely to attempt suicide.*
- Girls are three times more likely than boys to have a negative body image (often reflected in eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia).*
- One in five girls in the U.S. between the ages of 12 and 17 drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes.*
- Girls who develop positive interpersonal and social skills decrease their risk of substance abuse.*
- Girls who have an interest and ability in areas such as academics, the arts, sports, and community activities are more likely to develop confidence and may be less likely to use drugs.*
- On the other hand, this also is a time when girls may make decisions to try risky behaviors, including drinking, smoking, and using drugs.*
* Girl Power! Hometown Media Kit, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, 1997.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Results from a study of nearly 6,000 people aged 15 to 24 show that among young people with a history of both a mental disorder and an addictive disorder, the mental disorder is usually reported to have occurred first. The onset of mental health problems may occur about 5 to 10 years before the substance abuse disorders.**
This provides a "window of opportunity" for targeted substance abuse prevention interventions and needed mental health services.
** "National Comorbidity Survey," Ronald C. Kessler, Ph.D., et al., American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, June 1996.
What Is Mental Health?
Mental health is how we think, feel, and act in order to face life's situations. It is how we look at ourselves, our lives, and the people we know and care about. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, evaluate our options, and make choices. Everyone has mental health.
A young girl's mental health affects her daily life and future. Schoolwork, relationships, and physical health can be affected by mental health. Like physical health, mental health is important at every stage of life. Caring for and protecting a child's mental health is a major part of helping that child grow to become the best she can be.
Girls' independence is usually encouraged in childhood, and their strengths nurtured. Most girls become emotionally, mentally, and physically healthy young adults. But sometimes, during the transition from childhood to adolescence, extra care is necessary, so that a girl's self-esteem and coping skills are not diminished. For more information on teen mental health, call 1-800-789-2647 and ask for the brochure: "You and Mental Health: What's the Deal?" (Order # CA-0002)
Reprinted with the permission of the National Mental Health Information Center.
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