Qatar Forum for Authors has held a lecture for Dr. Al-Anoud Al-Ansari, a pediatric consultant and specialist in adolescent medicine. The lecture was titled “Investing in Writing to Promote Mental Health among Young People”. The lecture was held via the Forum’s Youtube channel. During the session, Dr. Al-Ansari focused on three subjects: 1) defining adolescence and its characteristics, then 2) examining these characteristics, and finally 3) role of writing in the lives of adolescents.
Dr. Al-Ansari began its lecture by stressing that there is no specific definition for youth. “although the UN defines young people in this stage as ranging from 15 to 24 years old,” and “numbers of young people in this segment are increasing.” She said. Meanwhile, she based her definition of adolescence on the UN definition explaining: “young people in this age stage range between childhood and adulthood. They experience many periods of mental and physical changes that qualifies them to be effective.” Dr. Al-Ansari emphasized saying: “Young people can be effective if they are given opportunity, even if young people at this stage experience many types of stress, which makes this stage fraught with peril, given its surrounding implications.”
She also tackled and identified the characteristics of adolescence, specifying them as physical and psychological changes, which may cause young people to experience rapid mood swings that could expose them to anxiety, suicide and eating disorder.” She noted that love of independence and personal development are deemed characteristics of this stage, deriving young people to move from childhood to another stage. A feeling of freedom is another feature which should be positively invested in society building, especially that teenagers have an ongoing desire to change and renovate, therefore this particular feature could be useful in carrying out several roles in society. She called for providing them with modern culture, in order to enhance values and identity in a proper and creative way.
Dr. Al-Ansari said that a writer can benefit from the features of adolescence by using it and trying to understand adolescent and their motives more positively and create incentives that would contribute in their achievements of creation and innovation. This is something that the Ministry of Culture and Sports endeavours and proceeds to implement.
She advocated for assisting teenagers at discovering themselves, monitoring their strengths so that they would be developed, including their imaginative and creative abilities, making use of them in rhetoric, not just in writing, and providing information to them in a simple and creative way.
She stressed the need for coordination between various authorities in order to provide adolescents with information in a way that sticks with them. She stated, “Local writers have a great role to play in promoting awareness, through various digital platforms, providing necessary materials that help them in self-identification and reach them through modern ideas.” She warned of the danger of relying on translated versions of books, which “are not appropriate to our local values and identity.” she explains. Meanwhile, she emphasized the importance of employing technology at providing information, “as it is an integral part of our world. Using social media to provide simple stories that can be understandable for teenagers. A writer who targets teenagers has to attract them using these means in order to present a fictional story or novel.” She added.
Dr. Al-Ansari talked about the characteristics of adolescent and young people’s novels. She said that the hero must be of the same age group. She called for focusing on science fiction stories and providing a produce that enables teenagers to reach others, soul-search and be acquainted with other teenagers” experiences.
She stressed that whoever wants to write for adolescents, must avoid preaching, as they clearly refuse such method. However, writers for teenagers have to write in an indirect way, in an easy and simple language, reduce long paragraphs and make sure that events are in sequence, so that a teenager would not feel bored from reading.