Ignorance is Not Bliss

Andrea Schmidt, Author

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A man by the name of Bill Clinton once said: “Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all.” The renowned politician recognizes the fact that mental health is a significant part of today’s society, but one that is often looked down upon for the sheer discomfort that comes with it. However, society should not shun those who undergo a mental illness, but rather take action and relieve all those who suffer through it.

Mental illness is a recurring problem among teens, especially with high school students. Recently interviewed, an anonymous source describes her own experience with the disease. She claims how anxiety and depression took a toll on her life, both personal and academic, and how the whole ordeal was something she would “never wish upon anyone else.” The student explains how difficult it was to open up, to seek help. She felt she could not express her emotions, seeing as she did not truly understand them herself. Increasingly difficult to recognize, the fine line between a strong emotion and a mental illness is often blurred. The student notes how many times she found herself debating whether or not she was facing depression or simply an extreme and constant feeling of sadness. She later realized how she felt a total “lack of motivation” and constantly asked her friends “how [they were] so happy” all the time, expecting a genuine answer as a way to solve her problem.

The American Psychiatric Association states how the signs of a mental illness include sleep or appetite changes, withdrawal from social activities, illogical thinking, and apathy, which was the most prominent change she experienced. Over the course of several months she battled her demons until her friend convinced her to see a therapist. Thankfully, she is doing much better now and urges others undergoing a mental illness to do the same and “not give up,” no matter what.

Of course, many teens, such as the aforementioned one, are initially reluctant to seek help. Luckily, there several organizations who rotate their lives around helping those who cannot help themselves. For instance, several schools sponsor “BeHip,” a group created “by teens for teens” with the goal of inspiring their fellow peers to make a difference, in their lives and the lives of others. The organization offers tips for teen health, both mental and physical, which can all be found on their website: www.behip.org, making them easily accessible to students. It is significant to remember that mental health is a valid problem in today’s society, affecting 1 out of every 5 teens in the United States, making up for 20% of the population. Although no one enjoys vulnerability, it is crucial for young adults undergoing a mental health illness to receive emotional aid, whether that be through a friend, relative, counselor or organization.