From: A concerned student
Insanity, according to thesaurus.com, is the best synonym for Mental Illness. Society’s views on mental health is the reason so many kids refuse to reach out. It’s not because they want to remain quiet with issues, it’s that they don’t feel truly heard.
I have so many friends who are struggling menally in some way. Eating disorders, depression, anxiety, OCD and body dysmorphia are just a few. The common aspect between them is that at one point they didn’t feel heard. Whether from teachers, parents, friends, or family members they felt discarded in some way. It’s not always someone’s fault they make someone else feel discarded. People just don’t always understand how to handle mental health.
Part of the cause of mental health issues is the school environment. There are teachers who care, but many don’t reach out because it can be a tough situation. Some teachers try to show their concern but get ridiculed for it. It’s sickening that people have to worry about how they are viewed for caring about others. Students are also placed under intense pressure. They are pushed to succeed and anything less is unacceptable.
Students are being pushed more and more every single day. Taking college classes in 11th grade seems like a good idea until students aren’t even able to sleep because of homework piling up. Success drives people to do better but also causes them to lose themselves in the process.
It’s more than just academic issues that students face at school. Students have to worry about being bullied or judged for being themselves. They fear not having friends in their class and not being able to make new ones. On top of that, students with social anxiety have it even worse. The fear of getting called on to answer a question that you don’t know can lead to panic attacks.
Social media is also a huge contributing factor to mental health. Seeing girls who look so perfect, even though it’s sometimes photoshop, leads to image issues. Body dysmorphia and eating disorders can be directly caused by social media. Also the pressure of measuring up worsens anxiety issues.
Personally, school led me to anxiety issues. I’m currently sitting in class being forced to learn a song for a quiz grade. In a few minutes I’ll have to record myself singing and dancing just so I can get a good grade. Now I’m stressed with wondering which group I will be in. Will people judge me for my project? Will I even pass this quiz?
My anxiety issues don’t stop for a quiz or a test. There is a difference between helping students get out of their comfort zone and forcing them into uncomfortable situations. I know I’ll complete the assignment but at what cost?
So how can we help these teens?
We need to remind them that they are not alone. 1 out of 7 ten to nineteen year olds suffer from mental illness. There is always someone willing to talk to them. The best place to start would always be with a trusted adult. Find someone you feel comfortable talking to and open up to them. I know it’s hard but it’s worth it.
We need to focus less on the idea that mental illness is a disease. It’s not a sickness that can be spread. It’s a condition in which people need help. It’s no one’s fault so we should stop judging people for it.
Also familiarize yourself with warning signs. Changes in behavior, and dropping grades are just some of the signs. Overstressing and changes in eating habits can be subtler signs but they are all equally important.
To all the teens struggling with mental health issues, you are not alone. You are worthy, you are loved and you are enough. Please don’t let anyone make you feel lesser than. Understand that mental health is a battle and it’s ok to need a helping hand.
You are enough