Recently, with the COVID-19 Pandemic affecting the lives of a great number of people, more individuals are making the choice to stay home for the safety of themselves and their families. For teens, this means more time on social media, less time outside, less time with friends. It also means that those with various mental health conditions are more likely to suffer as we spend time in isolation. For some, the lack of routine, communication, and cancelation of travel, school, and social events can cause periods of increased depression, anxiety and other various mental illnesses to increase. Being alone with your own mind is a scary thing. To me, mental health in teens is often overlooked, because…teens are always happy! This common misconception not only creates more of a stigma for teens and mental illness, but can also lead to a lack of treatment.
Without awareness, no change can be made. Early detection of mental illness allows teens to get the help they need, however, “half of all mental health conditions start by 14 years of age, but most cases are undetected and untreated”. To put into perspective just how prevalent mental illness is, here are some statistics:
- Suicide is the third leading cause of death in 15-19-year-olds.
- 9.4% of children aged 2-17 years (approximately 6.1 million) have received an ADHD diagnosis.
- 7.4% of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 4.5 million) have a diagnosed behavior problem.
- 7.1% of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 4.4 million) have diagnosed anxiety.
- 3.2% of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 1.9 million) have diagnosed depression.
- The estimated lifetime prevalence of non-suicidal self-injury among high school students is 12–23%, with rates higher in females than males.
- Every 62 minutes, at least one person dies as a result of an eating disorder.
Stats are often not truly processed, just random numbers. Yet, if we think deeper into statistics and relate it to those around us, it can create a much deeper understanding and importance around the numbers. For example, with suicide being such a leading death cause in teens, it is very probable that a number of your friends have considered or attempted suicide in their life. Just think about the fact that “one in five students have had thoughts of suicide, with 9% making an attempt and nearly 20% reporting self-injury”.
As a teen who has experienced mental illness, I understand the risks in creating a taboo around the subject. For me, I think if a friend or someone I was close to had approached me, I would have been more open to finding help (more on my experiences later). I plan to expand on the topic of mental health, as it is a subject I’m very passionate about. The key is for parents and friends is to look for warning signs of mental illness in teens. In the end, “what mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, more unashamed conversation” -Glenn Close
I urge you to talk about what you are going through or have been through. I know as teens it can be scary because of fear, rejection or judgement. However, mental illness is much more common than we all think. If you open up, share your experiences and help to end the stigma around mental health, you have no idea who you may be saving.
If you are anyone you know is struggling with a mental health crisis, you can get information from the SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline: 1-877-726-4727
If you or someone you know is suicidal or in emotional distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
I would suggest that those with children or friends of teens review the warning signs of mental illness in adolescents: https://www.nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Infographics/NAMI-Warning-Signs-FINAL.pdf
- WHO, Adolescent mental health: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/adolescent-mental-health
- National Alliance of Mental Illness, Mental Health By the Numbers: https://www.nami.org/mhstats
- CDC, Data and Statistics on Children’s Mental Health: https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/data.html
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Mental Health Disorders in Adolescents: https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2017/07/mental-health-disorders-in-adolescents
- Very Well, Statistics on College and Teen Suicide Statistics: https://www.verywellmind.com/college-and-teen-suicide-statistics-3570768
- Featured Image by @yrss on unsplash.com
Happy Living 🙂