Growing Pains: It’s Even Harder When You’re a Teen in 2019
Today, teenagers have a hard time mentally as they continue to blossom into adults. As an 18 year old myself, I’ve just entered the stages of adulthood, yet I have faced and still face the harsh realities of mental health declining in America. In the last 20 years, mental illness has been on the rise in young people (ages 10-24) with the most common mental health issues being depression in addition to anxiety and it continues to get worse with no concrete action.
I believe that some of the most convincing evidence comes from the horse’s mouth and it would be fair to say in this instance, seeing that 70 percent of teenagers — across demographic groups — saw mental health as a big issue according to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center. We as Americans should face this problem with urgency as the numbers of these mental illnesses continue to rise in teenagers. There are many reasons to why this is occurring in the generation most recently affected by 9/11. Many tie anxiety to the school environment because of the horrific mass shootings, others are affected by the stress of a faster paced life, and the repercussions of social media certainly take a toll on mental stability.
I see the main barrier in aiding the situation to be the lack of access to care. Not only do states vary their lack of health insurance coverage to mental and emotional issues in children (the highest rate being 16% in Oklahoma), but our country is also delivering insufficient treatment. The percentage of youth with severe depression who received insufficient treatment (less than 6 or no sessions of treatment) is as high as 85.4 percent in South Carolina and many other states are not far off. The government must understand that just because the youth is being treated for care, does not mean it is the proper treatment.
Being in this stage of life, I see many friends around me suffer with depressive thoughts and anxious feelings. I have even experienced them myself, especially in high school. I remember the time I experienced my first anxious thoughts. It was in my freshman year of high school and they were due to a schedule too stressful for a 15 year old girl. There was too much pressure and not enough time to be a kid, which probably contributed to my poor mental health even more. This is just one instance in which mental health can dismantle important moments in life. Today I have learned to manage when I become anxious, but for many, it is not that simple. America needs to open their eyes to this problem because declining mental health will not fix itself unless the right awareness and care is offered.