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Adolescence

Adolescence is the time period between 11 and 18 years of life (WHO definition), characterized by critical physical and psychological changes leading to adulthood.

   Adolescents are generally considered to be a very healthy group, with limited health needs. They remain medically underserved and their problems are seriously underestimated because of the following:

Health problems in adolescence may result through a number of mechanisms:

  Environmental factors have significant impact on adolescent health and well-being. Adolescents are extremely sensitive to environmental influences as they have not yet fully developed all their cognitive abilities for evaluating information and life-models. It is therefore evident that behavior and health patterns of adolescents always reflect the status of their social environment and services provided to them.

  Young people in modern societies are forced to come through the significant stages of adolescence, while living in a rapidly changing and unstable world: population mixing, decreased occupation possibilities, the divorce phenomenon, lack of social bonding - small families in large societies, technology progress and media power impacts.

  Thus, a significant problem for modern youth globally is the fact that they are bombarded from an early age with social messages having formative effects, particularly at a time of experimentation such as the teenage years. Aggressive marketing targeted at this age group, combined with risk-taking behaviors that youngsters may normally develop as they struggle towards independence, lead to the emergence of «new morbidities». These conditions include problems such as accidents, eating disorders, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, substance abuse, and mental health issues. Although these conditions are not «classic» medical illnesses, they seriously affect physical and mental adolescent health and result to decreased future productivity and employment opportunities. Of great interest is also the fact that a large number of the problems rising in adolescence can be preventable.

  Some of the most crucial problems resulting from adolescent high-risk behaviours in Greece - and globally - are the following:

Mental health – intentional injuries
Tobacco, alcohol and drug use
Road traffic accidents-unintentional injuries
Unhealthy dieting habits
Eating disorders
Obesity
Unwanted pregnancies
Sexually transmitted diseases