It’s no secret that the millennial generation is often looked down upon for being “overly sensitive.” Just ask your grandparents, I’m sure they’ll tell you how much worse they had it. In their day, they walked to school uphill both ways, worked two jobs, and moved out of their parents’ house by the time they were 16 years old. As much as we all love listening to grandpa’s tall tales, times have changed. Today’s teenagers have much more on their plate than their elders may think, and while stress can be a motivator, how much is too much? It becomes all too easy for teens to get caught up in the rolling responsibilities that come with age, and with pressure from our elders to “toughen up,” it becomes equally as easy to remain silent in the stress and struggle. Such silence can raise serious concerns.
First of all, what do we consider to be a healthy mental state? Mental health includes our emotional and psychological well-being. Having an unhealthy mental state can affect how someone thinks, feels, and acts. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, positive mental health allows someone to, “work productively,” “cope with the stresses of life,” and “realize their full potential.” Signs of an unhealthy mental state include: having low energy, changes in eating or sleeping habits, decline in social interaction, frequently feeling sad or angry, and having an overall feeling of hopelessness. An important distinction to make between unhealthy mental state and having a bad day, is that an unhealthy mental state tends to develop over time and last a longer period. Often times, the clearest difference between a bad day and a bad mind, is that if someone upset, but in a healthy mental state, they tend to have legitimate reasons for their emotions. If someone seemingly has no reason to be upset, but still struggles with day-to-day emotions, you may be inclined to investigate.
The sad reality is that, despite being written off as “teenage angst,” mental disorders are all too common in United States teens. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, half of all chronic mental illnesses begin at age 14. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the United States of people 15-24, and 90% of teenagers who commit suicide have a diagnosed mental health condition. Even if victims may not go to that extreme, over one-third of students with mental health issues will drop out before completing high school.
If you’re noticing signs of an unhealthy mental state, you may want to promote an open and honest dialogue with the person that you’re concerned about. Sometimes just a quick vent session can help to clear one’s mind, and letting them know that someone cares for them can’t hurt either. If you feel that further action is necessary, you may want to notify a professional, or encourage the person you are concerned about to seek professional help. For example, alerting a professional could be as simple as a quick email to Dan Costin, our SSCPS Adjustment Counselor. Perhaps one of the biggest issues our generation faces is the concept of “snitching” on their friends. If you’re worried for your friend’s mental well-being, there’s nothing wrong with taking the necessary steps to ensure their safety.
If you have any questions pertaining to unhealthy mental states and what to do if you’re worried about a friend, or even yourself, there are a number of online resources available. Log onto any of the following links for more information: