Explain the determining factors that affect the health of young people in Australia. (8 marks)
A range of factors classified as individual, sociocultural, socioeconomic and environmental can positively or negatively impact young people aged 12 to 24.
Individual factors including genetics can either protect or expose them to particular illnesses or diseases. For example young people with more melanin in their skin are at less risk of developing skin cancers in later years than fair-skinned people. Gender can also affect health especially for females as society places pressures on girls to be ‘attractive’ or have the ‘perfect body’ which can lead to young girls suffering from depression or eating disorders. This can affect their growth and development due to lack of nutrition or unhealthy dieting. Males have a higher rate than females for injuries due to risk-taking behaviours e.g. drink driving or work related injuries. Personal skills can positively affect young people’s health for example an individual using assertiveness skills to control their alcohol intake therefore reducing the risk of injury or someone with decision-making skills can be helpful in the case of what types of contraception to use to prevent pregnancy or STI’s.
Sociocultural factors such as peers and the media can also positively or negatively impact the health of young people. Peer groups provide important personal support networks influencing their mental and physical health. For example encouraging each other to remain drug free or engage in physical activity. However the negative impact of young people can result in dangerous risk-taking behaviours e.g. binge drinking and substance abuse. Young people are more likely to feel socially excluded from health services and peers because of language and stereotype barriers that result from the media. This isolation leads to higher levels of mental illness such as depression and even self-harm among young people.