Looking at Mental Health in Youth

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Looking at Mental Health in Youth

Taw Owens, writer

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Mental illness is an underlying disease that affects millions of people everyday. One in five adults have a mental health condition. That’s over 40 million Americans; more than the populations of New York and Florida combined. The rates are staggering, especially because the issue seems to be unnoticed by most people.  Mental illnesses can affect any person at anytime, and, because of this, they should be considered a large concern to society. Mental illnesses are very prevalent among the youth with about 20% being affected by an illness that affects the way they function.  Of these mental illnesses, the two most common are Depression and Anxiety, which both have a large presence in young demographics. Youth mental illness rates are worsening with severe depression increasing from 5.9% in 2012 to 8.2% in 2015. Along with this, around 76% of these young people are left with insufficient treatment or no treatment at all.  As a way to help those who are affected with mental illnesses, it is important to be educated on the disorders that affect the most people.

Depression in youths has become one of the most frequent mental illnesses diagnosed in teens, occurring within 13% of 12-17 year olds.  Depression can be defined as a “serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.”  Depression is more than just feeling down or sad, it can severely cripple the way one lives and affect how one acts.  Signs of depression can include: loss of interest in things once enjoyed before, changes in appetite, trouble sleeping, feeling worthless or useless, and thoughts of suicide and death.  These symptoms can go unnoticed for long periods of time since teens are often considered to be “moody,” but it most cases it can be much more than that. On average, almost 5,000 young people, ages 15 to 24, kill themselves each year.  Suicide has become the third highest cause of death for teens, nearly tripling since 1960.  With all these statistics considered, it becomes apparent that depression is more than just feeling sad but an illness that should cause great concern.  Depression continues to become more frequent in the teenage community and the signs need to be taken more seriously and help should be sought out for those in need.

Anxiety is a normal thing to experience throughout life, but some people are more affected than others. Anxiety can be defined as a normal reaction to stress, and can be in fact beneficial in some situations, but anxiety disorders involve an excessive amount of anxiety which can be harmful and damaging. Many of these children do not get help with their anxiety, which worsens the condition. However, it is curable and many people are able to lower their stress. Anxiety disorders can affect one in eight children, and research shows that “untreated children with anxiety disorders are at higher risk to perform poorly in school, miss out on important social experiences, and engage in substance abuse.” These factors can only get worse without proper help. If not treated, it can occur with other mental issues such as ADHD, eating disorders, and depression. With help and treatment though, anxiety can be controlled and virtually non existent. “Studies show that one in every eight children is impacted by some form of anxiety disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the lifetime prevalence of anxiety disorders in adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 is roughly 25%.” If there was more of a focus on helping the children that have been afflicted by this condition, it could be better prevented and treated.

Mental Illness in youth is a large problem that needs to be not only addressed, but be solved.  Stigma against mental illnesses stop those who may experience one from coming forward and talking about it openly. From a young age, kids are exposed to calling people “weird” or “crazy” for acting a way that is different from how others act. Actions like these can further isolate those with mental illnesses and worsen the feelings of anxiety or depression. Senior at Pope John Paul II, Mitchell Dorr, said that “Mental illnesses are a serious issue that should be addressed.” Charities such as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention were created to help educate society on mental illnesses as well as preventing the permanent damage that can be done by them.  Donating to causes like this and fighting to help stop the stigma against mental illnesses will eventually help society to see the true effects these disorders have on a majority of the population.

 

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