Teen Pregnancy & Mental Health
Low self-esteem, early use of alcohol and drugs, and living in a home with frequent family conflict are some of the risk factors that increase the likelihood of teen pregnancy. Additionally, adolescent girls with a major mental health disorder are three times more likely to get pregnant than those without a mental illness. According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics, pregnancy rates among girls with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or major depression were not only three times higher, but they also have been declining at a far slower pace than those for adolescent females without a mental health diagnosis.
“Although we do know some of the risk factors behind why girls with mental health illness may be at increased risk of becoming pregnant, pregnancy-prevention programs in most developed countries have not traditionally considered mental health issues,” said lead author of the study Dr. Simone Vigod, a psychiatrist at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto.
“Girls with major mental health problems are more likely to have social problems and drug and alcohol problems — problems with impulsivity, feeling badly about themselves,” she said. For example, a teen suffering from depression may find it difficult to protect herself from pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections with a boyfriend because of low self-esteem. The problem here is the teen girl is experiencing negative feelings about herself to the point that she is unable to assertively advocate the use of condoms or abstinence.
Interventions such as targeted school-based sex-education programs, and greater integration of reproductive care into adolescent mental health care programs are highly recommended. Seeking mental health counseling for your teen, and utilizing these programs will help to reduce teenage pregnancy.
You can read the entire article here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/teens-with-mental-health-issues-have-higher-risk-of-pregnancy-study-1.2530354