It’s Even Harder When You’re a Teen in 2019
We teens have a hard time blossoming into functioning adults in this era of declining mental health. 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. Specifically, teens are feeling more depressed, anxiety ridden, and there are more attempts of suicide because of the poor access to help. State officials and stressful lifestyles put on by adults are to blame for this.
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 teens suffer trauma from the horror of school shootings; they wither from the hair-pulling pace of modern life; they crack under the pressure to live up to their social media images.
I see the main barrier in aiding the situation to be the lack of access to care. Not every state has this issue, but many such as Oklahoma and Hawaii lead in the highest percentage of children not receive insurance for their mental health needs. Having these numbers leads families to not be able to afford care for their child and therefore mental illness continues to increase.
Not only do certain 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 like Arizona, Louisiana, and Kansas 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. There cannot be a cry for help and the government decides to put in any old assistance. The quality of care is just as important as having it at all. Without a well thought out care system, we may as well not have access to mental care.
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 I went to use the restroom. While in the stall, a pack of mints in my jacket pocket shook around a bit and made a loud jingling sound. All I could think was that the person in the restroom along with me thought I was taking drugs and that the rattle was a pill bottle. It bothered me for the rest of the day that my mind was making me think that this other girl thought I took drugs. Looking back, I believe that I had this thought and many more afterward because of the increasing workload and the need to always withhold a good image. 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 is better than this. We need to open our eyes to this problem because declining mental health will not fix itself unless the right awareness and care is offered.