Authored by Seth Teague, Behavioral Health Services, Management Analyst
I wanted to start off Mental Health Awareness Month by talking about mental illness and teens. Often times, when we think of mental illness, we think “Nah! That could never happen to me. I’m fine.” Sometimes we think that it’s just normal teenager stuff and everybody goes through it. Or if we do think we may be going through some type of mental illness we feel alone, embarrassed, and scared to talk about it with others. We tend to feel that nobody else could ever know what we are going through and that we can tough it out. It will probably just go away on its own.
Did you know that over 46% of 13-18 year olds will have suffered from some mental disorder? That’s nearly half of us. Or did you know that over 21% of that same age group will have suffered from a severe mental disorder? That’s one out of every five of us! Mental illness is so much more common than we think.
Knowing just how common it is for teenagers to struggle with some sort of mental illness tells me a few things. First, this tells me that I’m not alone. I don’t have to hide, be embarrassed, or be scared to admit it. There are so many out there that are going through something similar. Second, this tells me that there are people to talk to about this, and there is help available. Finally, it tells me that I can share what I am going through with people I care about and those who care about me. Chances are, they probably have gone through it themselves, or know people who have as well when they were teenagers.
If you or someone you know have a mental health illness there is help! Here in Salt Lake
County, there is a network of people who are interested and invested in helping those of us who are having a hard time with mental illness. If we really need someone to talk to when times get desperate, there’s a 24-hour number we can call to talk to someone here locally about what crisis we are going through. The phone number is 801-587-3000. If we begin to have suicidal thoughts or know someone—friend, family member or anyone—who is having these thoughts, we can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
I wanted to conclude this first blog with some helpful information about teens and mental illness. Both of these helpful reminders are digital flyers from www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org. The first flyer shows some warning signs for teens and mental illness. Remember when we were talking about some mental illness seeming like normal teen stuff? Here’s how we can try to separate normal teen behavior from some very similar things teens do, which are actually warning signs of mental illness.
Remember, all of us at some point will go through either some form of crisis, family troubles, school stress, or even mental illness. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. We are in this together, and we can get through this!