By Victor Seguin
Photo via Flickr
In most school nurse’s offices there are signs encouraging people to quit smoking, or informing them about how to deal with abuse, pregnancy, and anger management. But when it comes to getting help for depression, anxiety or other mental health issues, I haven’t seen anything.
Unfortunately, the stigma around mental health keeps our society from openly addressing it. If you have a mental health problem, most people think you must be crazy.
I’ve seen the effects of not getting help for mental illness first hand and it’s no joke. It’s very sad to see. One day a friend may be behaving normally and the next they can fall apart. What makes it worse is that sometimes you don’t even know what’s going on or how to help.
It’s even worse in school where classmates treat anyone with a mental health issue like they have some infectious disease. Teachers also make it pretty obvious by pulling students out of class to see the school counselor or therapist. We all know kids can be cruel. I’ve seen them lay into classmates that have attempted suicide. It’s vicious.
The data shows that one in every five U.S. children has experienced or will experience a mental health crisis in their lifetime. In the state of California, over 20 percent of youth reported having depression or other major mental illnesses, according to Kidsdata.org. In Merced County, the figure is even higher, at 24.8 percent.
Considering all the young people who need help right now why is it so hard to find the help they need? Why is their struggle and pain unimportant?
Surprisingly, there are a variety of mental health services for youth in Merced, but a lot of young people don’t know they exist. I think that’s partly because of poor advertising that doesn’t reach the communities in Merced that need the help. But I also think it’s because of the stigma. Even when someone needs help, they can be afraid to admit it to family, friends and even to themselves.
We live in a time when things that were once considered wrong or immoral are now socially acceptable. But when it comes to mental health, people who suffer from depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar or an eating disorders are still seen as crazy.
Until that changes young people will continue to suffer in silence.
Victor Seguin, 17, is a Youth Reporter at We’Ced. He enjoys Anime and Rock music and is obsessed with Thrilling Intent. He loves to draw, write, and read. Victor see mental health as a huge matter that is overlooked in our community, the entire Central Valley, and within our youth. He hopes to one day help in the efforts of bringing a youth mental health facility to the Central Valley that is made specifically for youth.