Mental health – intentional injuries

• Adolescents may often experience distressing and disabling emotions that are sometimes part of their normal development. However, there is an increasing incidence of mental illness globally, mainly because of the breakdown of traditional social and family structures. According to a survey in Greece, 13% of adolescent boys and 29% of girls were considered as being in a «depressive» emotional state. The burden of mental distress is often underestimated, while untreated mental illness in adolescence may lead to lifelong dysfunction. Fortunately, many mental problems are preventable and all can be helped. Thus, promotion of mental health services in adolescence is stressed as a priority in modern societies.

• Adolescence is characterized by noticeable increases in self-harm, being a particularly vulnerable life period. Suicide rates tend to increase with age, but in some countries a secondary peak has been recently shown in the age 15-24 years. In Greece, 8.3% of adolescent boys and 17.6% of girls reported that they had seriously «considered suicide» at least once in their life. Suicide attempt rates were 0.86% and 3.02% for boys and girls respectively. Suicide deaths were 9 in 2001 in Greece, a very low suicide death rate compared to other parts of the world (0.75/100.000 adolescents).

Sexually transmitted diseases

  • The incidence of Chlamydia trachomatis infection in sexually active female adolescents in the USA is 15-37%. Data in Greece are limited and do not concern mainly adolescent populations. Chlamydia infections can be asymptomatic in 25-50% of cases and they have significant impact on the genital tract. About 15-20 % of pelvic inflammatory disease cases may result from such an infection and there is a well established causative link of this pathogen with fertility problems in adulthood.


Obesity is a pandemic of modern societies and data seem very alarming in Greece. According to a recent study of the 1st Dpt of Pediatrics of Athens University, about 20.63% and 11.8% of adolescent boys were overweight and obese respectively. The relevant numbers for girls were 14.4% και 3.65% for overweight and obese respectively. Obesity in adolescence predicts maintenance in adulthood, with various severe physical and psychological impacts.


Unwanted pregnancies

Unwanted pregnancies may have serious health consequences for young women, including the risks associated with dangerous or illegal abortions. According to data reflecting the situation in Greece, 30-40% of adolescent girls 16-18 year old are sexually active, while 30% do not use a contraceptive method and another 30% use untrustworthy measures, such as withdrawal. Pregnancy rates have decreased the past twenty years in Greece (from 9% in 1985 to 5.2% in 2003), which may be well explained by the increase in the abortion rate during the above time interval (1980: 28.8%, 2003: 50%).


Eating disorders

There has been an increase in the incidence of anorexia nervosa and bulimia in the adolescent population during the past years.