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Teens Speak Up About Mental Health Awareness

By OnYourMind Staff

In honor of Mental Health Awareness month, Onyourmind.net asked our youth peer counselors about their views on mental health, challenges teens face with mental health issues, and what they would say to inspire hope in their peers. Read on for their answers.

What is one thing you wished people knew about mental health?

Everyone deserves support when it comes to mental health and that mental health issues aren’t limited to any one group of people or degree of severity.

Isabel, 15

That if someone has a mental disability you shouldn’t treat them differently in a sense that they are lesser than you. Because they are not.

Sophia, 14

I wish that people could know exactly what mental health is. I feel like many people do not understand the term. Mental health is not just stress, its not just why you cry, it’s not just a word that should get thrown as a joke. If more people knew what the term really meant, there would be so much less stigma surrounding it.

Mikayla, 16

That there is no “type” of person more susceptible to mental health. People coming from both stable and unstable backgrounds can experience mental health issues, and a person should not be written off or ridiculed just because their life does not mirror the stereotype of what a person with mental health issues looks like. It is important to be accepting of everyone.

Kylie, 15

What do you think is a common misconception about mental health?

There isn’t just one form of anxiety or depression there are multiple ways that it shows up from different people.

Sophia, 14

A common myth about mental health is that once someone you know develops a mental health problem, it will stick to them forever. Don’t be fooled! Many people who suffer from mental health issues are able to get better or completely recover through either self-help or professional treatments. While watching or experiencing a mental health crisis is never easy in the moment, it’s critical to note that a mental health problem is not a life sentence. Between community support systems, therapy, and medication, there is a path to recovery for everyone!

Nurcan, 17

Especially on certain social media platforms, some have turned mental health into a cute, trendy aesthetic, when in reality mental health is a truly difficult thing to deal with. When people characterize all sadness as depression, or all worry as anxiety, it shifts focus away from people actually dealing with mental health issues, and desensitizes people to the true pains of mental health.

Kylie, 15

I think that the strict labels or stereotypes imposed on certain conditions can be very limiting or overwhelming for people who are experiencing difficulties in their mental health. People shouldn’t have to conform to the exact symptoms list in order to need to seek help. If you are struggling with it, it is worth seeking help.

Dilara, 16

It’s easy to get over things and it’s easy to get past conditions.

Sam, 14

I believe that a common misconception about mental health is that many people think that it’s not a real thing. Because you cannot physically see someone’s mental health, it may not feel real to some people. Another misconception is just that mental health is just the struggle, or the stress, when really its all about the psychological and emotional well being of a person.

Mikayla, 16

What mental health challenges do you think teens face right now?

Isolation is a very strong factor in all of our lives right now, and with online school getting to finals it is very difficult to feel connected and not overwhelmed.

Dilara, 16

I think teens face a lot of stigma surrounding mental health. It’s hard to talk about for so many people because they don’t know how others react. Since there is so much stigma, many teens do not know what they are supposed to do about their mental health and are unable to help themselves when they really need to.

Mikayla, 16

For teens, the combination of too much indoor time and the uncertainty of our futures has left us trapped in an intersection of family tensions and overthinking— which is no fun at all. For many of us, the shift to online schooling is a huge blow to our academic development, which raises anxiety. While the effects of the school crisis vary between teenagers depending on one’s access to financial resources, one sentiment is fairly mutual across all of us⁠—”What are we supposed to do with ourselves?” When we are all at home, accessing mental stimulation can be difficult, and the support systems which we used generally are now out of reach. Teenagers who normally release stress from therapy or common group activities now are cut off from their routines, making a surge in mental health problems in the teenage population inevitable.

Nurcan, 17

I think finding a trusted adult to confide in is challenging. While there are counselors, therapists, or parents that are accessible, it’s often difficult to find a trusted adult you feel comfortable being honest and vulnerable with.

Kylie, 15

If you could give some hope to someone struggling with mental health, what would you say?

No matter what, you just need to keep going and push forward, because I’m sure better things lie in the future.

Sam, 14

Your emotions are completely valid in this moment. You can feel those feelings and accept them for existing, but don’t downplay your own strength and resilience. You are fighting a silent battle, but you can win it, you just need to find the weapons to do so. If you can, speaking to loved ones or using online counseling can help overcome these feelings. However, what’s equally as powerful a tool is self-care. You are worth all the love and treatment you can give to yourself, so don’t hold back. You deserve it!

Nurcan, 17

You are never alone. There are so many resources out there, and even more people (loved ones, volunteers in clinics and chat rooms, and licensed therapists and psychiatrists) that can help you through whatever you are struggling with. Please don’t feel as if you need to suffer in silence or that your struggle will burden others because there is always someone out there who will be able to help you.

Isabel, 15

Your feelings, your struggles, and your pain are all valid. Though you may feel isolated, just know that there is always someone who cares about you, whether it be a sibling, a friend, a counselor, a pet, or a chatter on the internet. You are not alone, and you never will be!

Kylie, 15

You are amazing, and I care about you and no matter what you’re facing, we’re here for you.

Sophia, 14

If you are struggling with your mental health, our trained peer counselors are here for you. Start a chat to speak to someone. We are open 4:30pm – 9:30pm Monday through Thursday.

If you are in crisis and the chat is closed, call our 24/7 hotline at 650-579-0350, text HOME to 741741, or visit the Lifeline chat.

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