One in five young people across Australia have trouble controlling their anger, according to headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation.
headspace clinicians believe the signs and symptoms of anger may be drastically impacting the day-to-day lives of many 12 to 25 year olds.
headspace Youth Advocate, Taz Clay, 18, said anger took a severe toll on his life when he was kicked out of home, and escalated after he lost his mum in a car accident.
“That was a whole new level of anger, I’ve never experienced anything like it. The intense feeling of wanting to hurt the driver who took her,” Taz said.
“My anger made people not want to hang around me, I was always talking about this hate towards this person or that person. There are a lot of other things that go on with anger – but once you start ironing those things out, other things will iron out with it. Finding strategies around anger as early as possible is a good thing,”.
Vikki Ryall, headspace Head of Clinical Practice, said anger can become a problem for the young person when it occurs frequently, is at high intensity and leads to outbursts or violent behaviour.
“It’s important that people listen to their anger and think about what to do before acting,” Ms Ryall said. “Working out what anger means is a much better solution than acting without thinking.” However Ms Ryall reiterated that the expression and experience of anger is a normal emotional function. “Learning to be aware of emotions and to express them appropriately is a part of good mental health.”
headspace clinicians have also stressed the importance between anger and aggression; where anger is a feeling, while aggression and violence are actions.
Ms Ryall said one does not necessarily lead to the other. “Anger can sometimes be intense and overwhelming, but it doesn't mean that you will become violent or aggressive.”
Anger in itself is not a problem and can be a common sign of distress, which may be masking sadness or depression. If you feel angry a lot or have trouble controlling your anger it may be helpful to seek support.
- For young people, a good starting point can be talking with parents, teachers or friends about how the anger can be managed. If the anger is a result of bullying or harassment, counsellors or welfare officers can help to manage the situation.
- It’s important for parents, teachers and friends to talk to young people about their anger. Opening up the lines of communication can lead to ideas about how the anger can be better managed or treated.
- Anger is a normal, healthy emotion.
- Problematic anger is not a mental health diagnosis. Individuals who experience chronic or intense anger or have problems expressing anger experience significant psychological distress.