Op-Ed for Portfolio – bmdpiano

Growing Pains:
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. 

This entry was posted in bmdpiano, BMDPiano Portfolio, Op-ed for Portfolio. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Op-Ed for Portfolio – bmdpiano

  1. davidbdale says:

    You might think of this as your best work because it is longer, contains more information, uses more sources, and required more work, but every sort of argument has its own needs, and this one remains too broad to succeed entirely. A narrower focus you could drill down on would have been the better strategy. Very good as it is, but not as persuasive as you might want it to be.


  2. davidbdale says:

    Hey, Piano.
    Your work is generally strong, but there’s always room for improvement.

    P1. It’s good to identify yourself as an “at risk” teen immediately. (Punctuation: 18-year-old) But as an individual, it’s hard to explain how you’re personally affected by “mental health declining in America.” Your experience is your own. You may observe that you’re not alone in having it. But still you face only your own harsh reality. You see that others share it. You make very broad claims that mental health is declining and while suicides are increasing. We’ll need some numbers to verify that eventually since you’ve put us on notice to watch for them. State officials and lifestyles bear VERY different sorts of blame. The lifestyles might induce the anxiety. Officials can’t help that. But they might fail to address it. Lumping them together creates a bit of confusion.

    P2. You try to use the fact that teens see mental health as “a big issue” to prove that “these mental illnesses continue to rise,” which it cannot do. I don’t mean to minimize either, but the concern doesn’t prove the illness. You could start with the reasons for trauma, claim that they could likely lead to depression or anxiety, then cite the study that says teens consider mental health issues to be very important. It won’t say they’re sick, but it will say they’re worried about their own health and probably the health of their peers.

    P3. Your statistic doesn’t prove what you think it does, Piano. By definition, some state will have the highest percentage of uninsured children. Even if most insure 100% of children, Oklahoma, with a 99% insurance rate, would still “lead in the highest percentage of uninsured children.” So leading doesn’t necessarily make Oklahoma neglectful. Now, if you combine a high uninsurance rate with a high mental illness rate, you might have something. See if you can combine the claims from P3 and P4 to make your claim more compelling.

    P4. You spend a lot of language on insufficient treatment, Piano, but its value is mostly rhetorical. 4 sentences follow your 85.4% insufficiency claim, but they don’t illuminate the problem. Is there a way to illustrate the sad situation of those poor kids who don’t get enough help? Expert testimony? A high suicide rate among kids who got little or not treatment compared to those who were well treated?

    P5. A personal anecdote is perfectly appropriate in an Op-Ed, and yours indicates your credential and your justification for lobbying on behalf of troubled youth. It would help to identify your odd ideation regarding the mint rattle as an irrational thought and to explain that when calm you could recognize it as such, but that you could also be gripped by near panic when stress made it impossible for you to “keep your cool” and think clearly. If you set up your mental state more clearly, the transition to “I blame stress for my condition” will be smoother.

    Are you a test case for good treatment? You’re not required to divulge anything personal, but if you did receive effective treatment by virtue of good health insurance (or because of living in the right state), your success at “learning to control your anxiety” could be an added illustration of the difference between access to care and lack of access.



  3. bmdpiano says:

    Hello! I went carefully through the draft and made corrections from the last set of feedback. From this newer version, could you tell me if my points are strong or do some still fall flat? I also added a little anecdote. Is that enough to show my experiences as well? If there are any other aspects that you notice need improvement, please include those as well. Thank you!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s