WHY YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH IS SO IMPORTANT
By Martha Reis & Vincent Lyn
A universe with dark holes with scales of gray clouds and rainbows. The ‘snowball effect’ causes exponential growth. Today’s future problems. Mental health needs to be more spoken about and treated less like a taboo.
As we grow and discover more and more about the world, sometimes some facts and truths are difficult to digest. As we grow up, we build our personalities, and we discover more and more about ourselves every day. It’s more common than it should be that many of us go through dark times, but many of us decide to lock it away and not express it to the outside. Why? Difficulty in expressing? Lack of trust? Thinking we’re the only ones who are going through what we are going through?
Young people spend a great part of their time at school. Unfortunately, and somewhat ironically, nowadays, school is one of the factors that can contribute to the worsening mental health of developing young people. It is normally at a young age that feelings such as anxiety, depression, lack of self-esteem are evident and, although there are professionals who can alleviate these problems. It is still quite evident that many people are unable to access these professionals, whether for financial resources either because there is still so much taboo in resorting to these professionals or people just can’t/ don’t want to recognize that something is wrong and that they need help.
The environment where a child grows, such as family, economics and school environment, can influence a person’s reality and consequently their personality and behavior in this world. There’s no doubt that schools are necessary and a privilege for the ones who can go to school, but it doesn’t mean it’s a perfect system. Or some sort of successful healthy human being factory that rolls out perfect humans. It’s way more complex than that. The educational system as we know is not even designed to answer all kids’ necessities, which is a problem in itself.
Sometimes school environments can be toxic to children, often because of their social environment but also because of how education demands and pressures a child to have certain grades to be “successful” as if a number determines a person’s value. That’s the system we still live in, unfortunately.
Often common problems are not openly talked about in schools, leaving teenagers to think that they are the only ones with problems when in reality they are not. “If everyone goes through it, why shouldn’t I do too?” Thinking this way, a teenager keeps silently increasing the demons inside his head, thinking he’s the only one to go through difficulties and emotions he’s never experienced, affecting his own mental health.
For some young people, school can become a nightmare. Either for reasons outside the school or because of the relationship that a teenager has with his surroundings, such as peers, teachers, facilities…
Teachers and their attitude and commitment to the education of their students have a great influence on the perception of a teenager and their future. A single teacher can make everything easier if he or she demonstrates that they actually care about students. Having and showing an attitude of empathy, being willing to help their students who may be experiencing mental problems as well as personal ones, that are unknown or are not addressed by the student. This simple gesture of empathy takes a huge load of worry and stress from the student, knowing that he or she is not alone and that there are people who care about them.
Mental health in youth is so important, starting with the fact that this is the phase where we are all shaped. It is at this point that we begin to build our future adult selves. Is it healthy to be creating a future based on insecurities, low self-esteem, depression, without prospects for a better world/ life? Well, it’s quite evident that we would be creating a version of ourselves based on bad principles, which only tends to get worse with time.
But… How to get out of a black hole? That’s the big question for those who live in a black hole, often called depression. Our mind can become our own prison and sometimes we want to be heard, but we don’t have the voice to be heard. Knowing how to deal with issues that suck us into a darker place, that inevitably appear during our life, is the key to a healthy mind, and professional help or even help from those who are around us is essential in this matter.
With so many things happening in our world, things in the past that weren’t well solved, and with all the uncertainty concerning the future, sometimes it is hard to focus on what is happening in the present. Mindfulness is something that everyone should learn, from a young age, because it’s a way to face the world in a more conscious and in a better way. The youth of today will be the leaders of tomorrow, and that is why it is so important to grow up in a healthy environment, both socially and mentally.
Saying no and knowing when to stop. How important it is sometimes to just say the word “no” or “enough”. For some people this can be quite difficult, allowing themselves to be abused either by outsiders or by themselves, often unconsciously. This ends up harming a person’s personal, professional, and social life, and that’s why it’s necessary to have a balance in life and know when our bodies need to stop. Saying “no” or “enough” is an act of self-esteem.
Mental health and social media. A world made of filters. Today’s social media can be a dark hole, over consumption by young people, that quickly becomes an addiction. Young people, every single day are influenced by what they see on social media. It’s a big problem when it comes to fake news but maybe even a worse problem when it comes to content that influences the way young people think about themselves and what’s around them. As with all the benefits we all gained from it, such as being connected with the world, social media, like everything, has its dark side.
Social media has a big influence on mental health. Rather we are the ones who post about our supposed perfect life, wanting some attention and approval from the exterior or rather we are the ones who give the attention to them. Every day we see everyone posting pictures of their supposed perfect life, thinking we are the only ones with a boring life. Watching pictures of models, with the perfect body, not realizing that, most of the time, it is an edited picture, that can hide all the imperfections of a body, making people lower their self-esteem, thinking they should have the same as the industry subconsciously tries to teach them what is a perfect body. Society needs to start to appreciate and accept the more natural things in life. Because, nowadays it seems like we are normalizing the artificial beauty of things, which is something we should be worried about.
There’s no such thing as a perfect life, a perfect body, even though watching someone’s social media account says otherwise sometimes. Sometimes, behind a person who looks happy, is an unhappy person.
Mental Health Facts & Statistics:
The World Health Organization (WHO) conceptualizes mental health as a “state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”
In 2020 — Young adults aged 18–25 years had the highest prevalence of AMI (29.4%) compared to adults aged 26–49 years (25.0%) and aged 50 and older (14.1%). The prevalence of AMI was highest among the adults reporting two or more races (31.7%), followed by White adults (22.2%). (Any mental illness AMI is defined as a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder.)
Mental illness is becoming increasingly common among teenagers throughout the United States and globally. Recent studies indicate that approximately one in five teens between ages twelve and eighteen suffer from at least one diagnosable mental health disorder. About 20 percent of all teens experience depression before they reach adulthood. Between 10 to 15 percent suffer from symptoms at any one time. Only 30 percent of depressed teens are being treated for it.
The United States, Colombia, the Netherlands and Ukraine tended to have higher prevalence estimates across most classes of disorder, while Nigeria, Shanghai and Italy were consistently low, and prevalence was lower in Asian countries in general. Mental health and substance use disorders affect 13 percent of the world's population.
Faculty of Architecture University of Lisbon, Portugal
CEO/Founder at We Can Save Children
Director of Creative Development at African Views Organization
Economic & Social Council at United Nations
Editor-in-Chief at Wall Street News Agency
Rescue & Recovery Specialist at International Confederation of Police & Security Experts