Start taking teen mental health more seriously

Mental illness rates are increasing every day especially in teens. According to “Mental Health America” mental health in youth is worsening, even as we speak. The percentage of mental health problems has risen significantly in the past decade. Although adults also struggle with mental illness, studies have said there has been no major increase in adults compared to teens according to the CBHSQ Report. Because of this increase the suicide rates in young adolescents have increased as well. This is a major problem that needs to be resolved, otherwise the rates will continue to rise.
From a teenager’s perspective, life is challenging. This is the time when we are pressured to figure out our lives, our grades basically determine our future, we get jobs to start paying bills on our own. We are pressured to not make any mistakes because we should “ be old enough to know better.”
From a parents perspective, teenage problems are not as advanced compared to a parent’s reasons to be stressed. This is where problems arise. Society needs to stop comparing one another’s problems because every emotion, every problem, every reason for someone’s feeling is valid. And that is what society needs to understand: everyone has their own problems, everyone has their own emotions, everyone has their own story.
Why are teens so scared to admit they are suffering and battling with their everyday emotions on their own inside their head? Why do teens continue to hide behind a mask? It all boils down to one answer in the end which is “it’s not that big of a deal and no one will understand.”
Many people think depression just means you are sad. Anxiety means you’re just nervous. Having an eating disorder means you are just a picky eater. Separation anxiety means you’re just clingy. OCD means that you can’t stand a curved line. These are all stereotypes that society has succeeded at putting on serious mental health issues. That is why teens have a difficult time admitting to their peers, especially their parents, because they claim that they will not understand and avoid embarrassment. As a society altogether, we have not educated ourselves to understand the signs of a mental illness and learn how to give support to one who is suffering.
According to Penn Medicine, signs of depression can include changes in sleep, constantly feeling guilty, changes in energy levels, changes in motivation to normal desires in life, and feeling hopeless. These symptoms can be easily mistaken for typical teenage hormonal changes. Which is why society, especially parents, brush off these symptoms.
Having a mental illness is not a choice. You don’t just wake up and decide “I want to feel like this.” Having mental illness problems can drown you. It can feel like you are being unheard, like there is a wall between yourself and the outside world. It can feel like there is no way of escaping the dark tunnel you’re in. But the outcomes can be even more unnoticed.
Sometimes teens feel so depressed that they consider ending their lives. According to the CDC, each year, almost 5,000 young people, ages 15 to 24, kill themselves. The rate of suicide for this age group has nearly tripled since 1960, making it the third leading cause of death in adolescents and the second leading cause of death among college-age youth. So how can we change this?
According to DLCanxiety here are some ways that we as a society can do as an individual to make a difference. Provide validation when they express how they are feeling, be willing to only listen, learn how to spot the signs, encourage your full support, help create a low stress environment, and don’t begin conversations with “well, have you tried…” Avoid the temptation to give advice by comparing your problems to theirs and changing the subject to yourself. Also, encouraging a free judgement environment. Lastly, be open to solutions such as therapy or treatments.
But what can schools do to assist? Schools do have a counselor but it is more for academic purposes. Schools should provide a therapist or a counselor specifically for teens who need help with talking about their emotions – a trained therapist who has the resources with them and on hand. Many teens also do not want to reach out for help due to having to go through their parents. If there is a therapist at school kids could go visit them anytime during the school day in a comfortable and private environment.
If you are affected by mental illness then you know the feeling. If you are not aware of the feeling, educate yourself before you take action. You don’t know what they are fighting. Be the solution, not the cause and let’s make a change together.