Teen Clinic to Put Mind Over Matter
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24 November 2010
By Arundhati Ranade
Clinic for those between the ages of nine and 19 will help them deal with physical and mental issues that they find difficult to talk about
Premarital sex amongst youngsters in increasing, 50 per cent of Indian girls are married by the time they turn 18 and drugs and substance abuse is prevalent in 40 per cent of youngsters between 15 and 20 years of age. These are some facts about Indian adolescents that surfaced in a research by the World Health Organisation (WHO). In our own city, the physical and mental health issues related to teenagers is on the increase. This has led a few city doctors to start a special clinic for teenagers.
Our education hub has a large number of students with many from out of town living in hostels. Many of these students require special attention. A specialised teen clinic at Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital has been started for this precise purpose. The clinic will have a paediatrician, gynaecologist, psychiatrist and counsellors.
Mirror spoke to Dr Vaishali Deshmukh, the co–ordinator of this ‘nine to nineteen’ clinic to find out what’s bugging Pune teens. She said, "Such a clinic is the need of the hour. The WHO had highlighted such a need for India. This is a first for Pune. A clinic like this had opened in Delhi, but it didn’t work due to lack of awareness."
Lack of Awareness
Dr Deshmukh shared a few case studies she came across while practising. She shared that a group of mothers asked her if she could make their teenage sons aware of the bodily changes they would undergo at that age. "The mothers felt there wasn’t that comfort level and openness in the relationship, that they or a family member could explain these physical changes to teenagers. But they felt they needed to give their kids knowledge about it," she said.
She felt that girls and boys in hostels are in need of counselling. "I recently counselled a teenage girl from North East studying in Pune. She attempted suicide as she was very depressed. She didn’t have anybody to share her problems, feelings or issues with. She had gotten into a relationship at a young age and was stressed out by her studies.
Girls between the ages of 12 and 19 are very vulnerable and can get depressed easily," Dr Deshmukh explained. "For boys the vulnerable age group is between 15 and 20, as they undergo changes in appearance, have muscle changes and surging hormones. She said, "Girls can consult a gynaecologist, if they have menstrual problems, but boys don’t realise the root of their problem and they get even more depressed," she added.
Value of Confidentiality
Dr Deshmukh visited teen clinics in Sweden before coming up with the concept in Pune. She said, "In Sweden, there is much more awareness about sex–related issues. Adolescents visit these clinics on their own, as they are informed about these clinics in their schools. Here, we do not have teenagers approaching us on their own. Parents or guardians take them to doctors."
In western countries, the concept of a teen clinic is appreciated and these clinics maintain the confidentiality of their patients. They have background material like books, magazines and weblinks that can be used by these youngsters. The purpose is to provide authentic and medically correct information about everything.
Dr Deshmukh adds that the clinic in Mangeshkar hospital will be operated on similar lines. "We are thinking of providing an information library to our patients, if they ask for it", she said. Workshops informing teens about bodily changes they are undergoing will be held. One such workshop by eminent social worker and medical professional Dr Rani Bang is currently being held.
Facts about Adolescents in India compiled by WHO
Premarital sexual relations are increasing Trafficking and prostitution has increased Misconceptions about HIV/AIDS are widespread 10.2 % youngsters have sexual intercourse by the age of 15 50% of girls are married by the age of 18 Teenage pregnancy is about 13.8% Adolescent pregnancy is common with a higher maternal mortality rates Unmet need for contraception (15–19 years) Contraceptive use among (15–19 years) of modern methods is 4.7% 40% start using drugs and other substances between 15 and 20 years
Scene in Maharashtra
Girls between the ages group of 15 and 19, currently using contraceptives : 4. 7 % Women between the ages of 16 and 18 who are sexually victimised: 11 % Childbearing women between age group of 15 – 19: 11 % (Source – National Family Health Survey and
www.whoindia.org, (United Nation’s office on drugs and crime 2002)
What the clinic will do
Create awareness about physical changes amongst teenagers It will act as a link between the parents and teenagers Will cater to and treat physical and mental irregularities in adolescents Will try to impart life skill education to teens, as recommended by WHO Will work on the lines of Swedish clinics which give information to teenagers about body changes through a library, web links, workshops, etc
Why Pune needs a teen clinic
The city has a huge population of students A number of adolescents in Pune stay away from their home Being away from parents make them vulnerable to depression, addiction, etc Girls at this age can consult specialists about any physical abnormalities related to hormonal changes or menstrual problems they may have Boys can avoid depression by learning the root of the problems they undergo Discussing issues with consultants, parents is still not allowed in the culture of the city