More Than a Sad Face

Bringing Awareness to Mental Illness in Teenagers

Zoe Zdrojewski, Reporter

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As of 2017 one in five teenagers in the United States suffers from a mental illness. Yet many of the people around these afflicted teens are oblivious to the battles that they are facing on a daily basis. Students have no idea that their lab partner struggled to get out of bed this morning as a result of their severe depression. Many people don’t notice the girl who skipped school to get out of a presentation in her english class because the anxiety was too much. Many people are suffering in silence. It’s time to learn the signs, to make sure nobody walks the halls feeling alone.

We all know someone who is facing these challenges, and as a society we have come  a long way in terms of recognizing depression and anxiety in teenagers. However there is still more work to be done. There are mental disorders that the world has yet to recognize as a serious problem in our youth. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, as many as one in 200 children and teens are diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder each year and 10 out of 100 young women with Eating Disorders. Additionally, 3.1 percent of older teens are reported to have Bipolar Disorder.

These illnesses are often overlooked, unnoticed, and misunderstood. Of course people know about these disorders and most have encountered someone with one of these in their lifetime. Yet there are many misconceptions being thrown around about these very serious conditions. For example, how many times have you heard someone nonchalantly use the term “OCD” as a verb synonymous with “neat freak?” There is much more to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder than the desire to keep things organized. Bipolar Disorder is more than the drastic mood swings depicted in the media, and not every person with an Eating Disorder weighs 90 pounds. The stereotyping needs to end, and you can help stop it.

 

Get Educated  

Organizations like the National Institute of Mental Health have websites filled with information about anything you could want to know about mental illness. Everything you need to know to shut down ignorance is right at your fingertips!

Ask Questions

Don’t be afraid to kindly ask someone about the specifics of their illness. The people fighting these hidden demons would rather answer your question about their disorder than have things be assumed about them that are not true. Just by acknowledging that this is a serious problem, you are making a difference.

Pay Attention

Notice the little things about the people around you. Ask people why they needed to take a day off school, why they look so sad, show that you care. Everybody wants somebody by their side, and just by asking “how are you feeling?” you could brighten someone’s day.

The world is full of many different kinds of people, and every individual is fighting a battle of their own. Let’s work towards making the world a slightly more tolerant place, where nobody has to fight their battles in solitude.

    

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