Adolescence is considered a critical age group since in this period, adolescents experience certain physical psychological and social changes (Sun et al., 2016). This is also a consideration as critical development stage where adolescents experience when major changes health-related behaviors which include smoking and substance abuse, reckless driving, unsafe sexual practices, unhealthy eating, and lack of exercise occur, which may significantly impact health outcomes of the adolescents (Azzopardi et al., 2016). Psychosocial issues are also prominent in this age where the majority of the adolescent experience low self-esteem, low confidence, distorted body image and confusion of gender role. Hence, this paper aims to provide an in-depth analysis of the major health characteristics, issues, and problems experienced by population group and relevant health risk, common barriers and role of the nurse in the following paragraphs.
Major health characteristics and issues of the adolescents:
Adolescent stage (10 to 19 years) considered a major transition period between childhood and adulthood which is characterized by physical, psychological and behavioral changes (Sawyer et al., 2016). The adolescents also experience a change of perception of the world and social expectation. The physical changes in adolescents usually accompanied by sexual and physical maturation due to hormonal changes which often lead to intimate relationships (Olsson et al., 2016). The individuals of 10 to 19 years usually developed abstract thinking and critical thoughts along with a sense of physical awareness and emotional maturity.
While many adolescents experienced issues associated with physical factors, individuals tend to exhibit issues associated with psychosocial development. According to Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development, this population is at Identity vs. Role Confusion where issues associated with identity are common (Wong et al., 2017). In this stage, due to hormonal changes, the adolescents tend to experience severe psychosocial developmental issues such as issues with peer group, anxiety about sexual characteristics, issues with rationale decision making, issues with body image development of unhealthy food habits, role and identity confusion, low self-esteem, low confidence, lack of awareness (Hirani et al., 2016). They tend to develop values of their peers since peers play a crucial role in the development of habits, decision making, and other factors.
Health risk experienced by the population:
Adolescents have explicit health problems as well as developmental needs which is different from those of children or adults. Only, 3.3% of people aged 15 to 19 years in Australia live a healthy lifestyle and are devoid of any risk of health issues. The reason behind the ill-health of the adolescents is mostly psychological rather than biological (Lim et al., 2017). In this stage, due to biological changes and psychological changes, individuals tend to experience adapt behavioral changes which further become a fundamental part of a lifestyle that further subjects them into certain health risk. In Australia, the common health risk experienced by adolescents includes early pregnancy and childbirth, smoking and other drugs induced mental health issues, violence, self-injuries, and unintentional injuries, malnutrition, and obesity (Clark et al., 2018). The underlying mechanism behind the risk of development of health issues is that in this age, the peer groups and other individuals in the social environment influence the behavior, decision making, and self-image (Clark et al., 2018). On the other hand, due to poor relationships with parents, lack of support from parents and peers and conflicts, adolescents often develop low self-esteem, issues with autonomy, poor body image, and role confusion. Consequently, these stress factors further subjected individuals to anger, frustration, poor eating habits, lack of sleep and social inclusion. To cope with such stressors of life, individuals often develop reckless behavior which further subjected them to high risk of severe health issues which may lead to the premature death of short term disability (Clark et al., 2018).
Identify common barriers to health care:
In Australia, adolescents of 10 to 19 years often experience face additional as well as unique barriers to obtaining adequate health care. Such barriers prevent access to care and create health disparities. Infants, children, and adolescents face unique barriers to accessing care for several reasons. The common barriers experienced by the adolescent population of Australia, especially the rural part of Australia include language barriers, sociocultural stigma, and lack of knowledge and awareness of the health care professionals and family members, confidentiality and autonomy carriers (Sun et al., 2016).
Role of nurse in supporting nurse:
Being frontline professionals, serving the unique needs of every human being irrespective of gender, age, race and ethnicity is the duty of care of the patient. In this context, support of nursing professionals for adolescents is required to provide in a variety of settings such as communities and public health, schools which can provide with numerous opportunities for improving adolescents' sexual as well as reproductive health and reduce the high prevalence of sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy (Hirani et al., 2016). In this context, nurses required to use combination of evidence-based knowledge and skills to make an impact on the reproductive outcome. Nursing professionals are required to develop unique skills such as active listening and a non-judgmental approach while providing care to adolescents. The nursing professionals can support the health and developmental needs of the adolescents through health promotions where the adolescents and their family members involve in education and activities which can promote health and empower them. At the individual level, nursing professionals can provide all possible support such as early screening and respecting the confidentiality and autonomy of the patients (Wong et al., 2017). Advocacy can be developed in the area for providing adequate access to health care.
Thus in a concluding note, it can be said that the Adolescent stage considered as a major transition period between childhood and adulthood which is characterized by physical, psychological and behavioral changes. The adolescents also experience a change of perception of the world and social expectation. Due to these changes, adolescents are at high risk of developing alcohol and smoking habits, violence, self-injuries, and unintentional injuries, malnutrition, and obesity. The common barriers such as language barriers, sociocultural stigma, lack of knowledge. The nursing professionals can provide support through unique skills and education which can boost self-esteem and empowerment.
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