Mental Health applies to everyone with a mental capacity… So it affects everyone.
- 1/5 Americans will suffer from a mental health condition throughout their lifetime
- Every American will have a family member or friend affected by mental illness
The biggest victim of mental illness could arguably be children and teens. Because teenagers are “all about me”.
Everything revolves around “me” and is “my fault”. Preteens and teenagers feel alone and weird. Stir in some mental illness symptoms (panic attacks, eating disorders, or angry outbursts) and it is very highly likely they will assume that they are dealing with something that is all their fault, their burden to bear and their secret to protect. Our teenagers need language to see these symptoms point to a greater problem- sometimes an illness. Sometimes, just normal development or a personality area that could benefit from some fitness coaching.
But definitely not shameful. Definitely not something that will get better in the dark.
I continue to work on limiting the “mental health” words (“anxiety”, “depressed”, “tense”) and find ways to teach them this vocabulary in a way that is stimulating and effective so that they can see they are not alone and can see that there is material out there to help them.
Be available for the teenager in your life that may be suffering more than they’ll show.