Being Open About Mental Health
By Keara Aughney
Is mental health seen as a topic we shouldn’t discuss in society? Or can there be power in acknowledging it and openly having help available close by for the teens and people in need?
According to the website, centerfordiscovery.com, about 20 percent of our teen population is currently struggling with depression. Only 30 percent of those are openly seeking treatment, so what is causing the other 70 percent to hold back in reaching out? With mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and mood disorders, some teens tend to be to shy about reaching out when extra help may be needed.
Here in Marin County, we have seen and experienced multiple deaths of teens over the last year. Close friends and family members have been affected in many ways and only some may know how to cope properly. According to psychcentral.com, every 100 minutes another teen will take their life. Suicide has been seen as a topic that people tend to keep quiet about. Both the topic of suicide and the topic of mental health concerns are hidden by everyday people within our communities. But is this really the right thing to be doing? No. Suicide should be openly talked about.
As we grow up, we are usually told by people such as parents, teachers, or others we are close to that we should go to those we trust when we are in need of help. But over the course of the last few years, it seems that teens who openly talk about their depression are seen and labeled as “attention seekers”. Usually this idea comes from other peers around the same age. Maybe some teens are seeking attention, but those are the ones who are willingly wanting to receive help.
Instead of shutting out the idea of talking about the topic of depression and suicide, we as teens should make sure kids know that others will step up and help them when they seek help.
Sophomore Ella Crowder shared her thoughts on the matter.
“I think that discussion about mental health is very important because if it’s talked about more and actually given attention to then maybe less people would be so depressed and suicidal if they felt it was more open to be talked about,” said Crowder.
The fact that we are told to reach out but are shut down when we do is, where things need to change. Most teens seeking help from peers can be as simple as “ I don’t know what to say" or some people saying “I’m here for you.” but never follow through with it. This can lead to people feeling bad for their friend and staying quiet because they think nobody else understands what is going on.
With all of the use of technology and social media in this day and age, most teens turn to their social media profiles for help, but their posts are often brushed off. Most people assume they are not serious or just seeking attention. The fact is, many of them are seeking attention in order to receive help.
In this day and age, teenage slang has grown tremendously in terms of “I’m going to kill myself," "R.I.P.", and "FML.” Instagram posts and Snapchat stories all the time show proof of people talking about depression and thoughts of harming themselves. But since this occurs so often, it is very often overlooked. Peers who read the posts normally think that the person isn’t serious or the feeling of sadness is temporary.
Most kids use these terms daily, so it’s hard to tell when someone’s really being serious.
Regardless, if a teen is actively seeking help from their peers and community, it must mean something.