Mental illness is an epidemic plaguing teens, according to The National Center for Children in Poverty (NCCP). The NCCP reports that “between 20% and 30% of adolescent have a major depressive episode before they reach adulthood.”
The way society perceives mental health affects today’s teenagers in a negative way. With the way people treat mental illnesses, viewing those suffering with depression as ‘attention seekers,’ those with anxiety as ‘too sensitive,’ or those with schizophrenia as ‘crazy,’ it is no wonder teens are not seeking help. Among adolescents with mental health needs, 70% do not receive the needed care (NCCP). There are other contributing factors that result in mental health being untreated, including the way it is presented on social media or television. For example, Thirteen Reasons Why, a trendy new series on Netflix, glamorizes mental illness and suicide. The glamorization of these issues only further insults those actually suffering. Mental illness can be just as debilitating, if not more in some cases as physical illnesses. This results in many teens feeling like the only way to stop hurting is to end their lives. In fact, “Suicide is the third leading cause of death in adolescents and young adults (NCCP)”.
What is the Best way to Combat this Negativity about Mental Illness and Getting Help? To combat ignorance surrounding mental illness, you can educate yourself about the issue and educate others. Try to remember that people with mental illness are just like everyone else, they are facing their demons too. People with mental illness are not scary or dangerous as media portrays them to be. If you believe you are suffering from a mental illness, there are so many options to get help. To further combat the stigma of mental illness, try to understand the human behind the illness. Make sure you are being conscious of your language because language can influence how people view things. Encourage the thought that mental illness is just as legitimate as physical illness and it should not be treated as less important just because you can not see it. If you are comfortable, try to be honest about treatment, you should be able to say when you have a therapy appointment just like someone who is sick can say they are going to the doctor.
If enough people decide to be more aware that minds can become ill just like bodies, the stigma behind mental health is sure to dissipate.