Overcoming the stigma associated with teens and mental health
Video and commentary by Cicely Foley
As high schoolers, we face a lot of stressful situations; if we we don't form healthy habits for dealing with them now, we won’t have the foundation we need in the future. I believe self love and self care are a couple of the most important things to learn while we are young. There are so many factors in our lives that challenge us, and if we don’t have the means to face those challenges, they may consume us.
My generation has grown up with technology, and we don’t know all of its effects yet. Social media is a easy and fun way to stay connected with people, share about our own lives, and stay updated on current events, but it has negative effects on our mental health. Many studies have been conducted lately to show the relationship between social media and mental health. Results of the studies show that use of social media often leads to lower well being, jealousy, comparison, and perceived social isolation. A study conducted by the University of Missouri concluded if people using social media felt envious they tended to show signs of depression. In their study, the Royal Society for Public Health likened social media with cigarettes or alcohol in its addictiveness and negative effects.
A study from Britain’s Office for National Statistics found ten percent of 16-24 year olds described themselves as “always or often lonely.” In America, 20% of teens have a diagnosable mental health disorder, but less than 80% seek treatment. Too often people with mental illnesses are labeled or treated differently by them. This can lead to more problems and more severe symptoms. There are many reasons people don’t get help for their disorders, but none of those reasons should be tolerated.
One of the biggest reasons behind the lack of help is the stigma associated with mental health. The first step to treatment is letting the person know it’s okay they are having problems. We have to open up conversations in order to explore ways to treat these disorders. Not talking about them doesn’t make them go away, it just outcasts a huge proportion of the population and creates more problems.
Teenagers don’t know everything, but we know enough to have something to say. Young people have a voice and use it, we just need people to listen.