So much has changed since I was a teen. Cell phones, the World Wide Web, and social media didn’t exist. Big hair and shoulder pads are out of fashion. And there are more than three channels on the TV.
We’ve come a long way since I graduated high school, mostly for the better. One of the biggest advances we’ve made is in the understanding of Mental Health. But just like social media, parents may not have kept up with these changes. Growing up, Mental Health was one of those things that was only whispered about.
When I make presentations at schools, the number one comment I get from students is that their parents don’t understand or don’t believe that their child needs extra help. I get it – I was there. We grew up to believe that Mental Health issues were all “in our heads”. Health class was about the physical body, not the mind. And because of that, I was late to the game in getting help for my daughter when she started showing signs of Mental Illness.
Here are just a few of the things we now know:
- The brain is part of the body; this makes mental health the same as physical health.
- 1 in 5 people are living with a Mental Health Condition. *
- 1 in 6 U.S. Youth aged 6 – 17 experience a mental health disorder every year. *
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death in those between the ages of 10 and 24. *
If you are a young person that agrees with Will Smith that Parents Just Don’t Understand, you may be right, but it is because so much has changed since we were your age. Please reach out to another adult in your life. Your school counselors are there for you, as are teachers, coaches, youth leaders, librarians, and other family members. Then, give your parents a break and remember that even though they may not be accurate, our perceptions regarding Mental Health have been ingrained in us and it may take us some time to adjust to the new understanding we have of Mental Health.
*Stats: NAMI National