Mental health issues in children and teens are as common as they are in adults. They can affect how children learn, manage their emotions, handle stress and behave. These issues can affect their grades, relationships and physical health. It’s reported that one in five children has a mental health issue, but not all seek treatment. If these issues are left unaddressed, it can lead to dropping out of school, unemployment, violence, substance use, incarceration and serious mental health issues like depression, anxiety which can even manifest into harming others, self-harm or suicide.
One the the major issues is that people don’t talk about mental health. There is a stigma around talking about ones mental health and seeking treatment. There are many harmful effects caused by this stigma including reluctance to find the help needed, misunderstanding by friends and family, bullying or harassment and adding to the negative thoughts and feelings about oneself.
Heres some ways that you can help reduce and end the stigma:
- TALK: Everyone has mental health and emotions are normal. When you and your friends or family can begin to normalize the conversation about mental illness, you are doing a small part to break down the stigma of being mentally healthy. Start by asking, “How are you?” “How are you feeling today?”
- PROMOTE: Become an advocate for you and your family’s mental health. You can speak about the positive things you see others doing in the community and on social media. You can promote taking a “mental health day” from work or school to do something that you enjoy.
- THINK: Shift the way you think about mental health. Try using “people first” language, meaning that you put the person before the illness. Instead of saying “bipolar person”, try saying “a person living with bipolar disorder.”
The more people who are willing to talk openly about mental illness and health and change how we as a country have thought about it will help to end the stigma surrounding mental health and reduce and prevent suicide.