It is in adolescence that we make important choices and lay
down foundations for our adult life. Yet, too many young people
across Europe struggle with serious health-related issues, such
as anxiety and depression, eating disorders, early pregnancy, sexually
transmitted diseases, self-harm, addictive or violent behaviours and
suicidal thoughts. Young people feel that they do not get the help
they want when they need it. Too often, they are demonised or medicalised.
We need to try harder to understand why our societies are
failing many of our young people and develop solutions that work.
Research needs to be supported. Local communities and adolescents
themselves need to be involved. Media and education should raise
awareness of challenges and good practices and promote public support
for health systems that meet the needs of every young person.
Investing in adolescents’ health is beneficial for the well-being
of societies and future generations. Furthermore, it has a substantial
economic impact. Governments should give higher priority to providing
health services for adolescents that are free, inclusive, timely,
welcoming, confidential and non-punitive. The social determinants
of health, for example poverty, deprivation, prejudice and stigma,
should also be addressed.