The urgency to destigmatize mental illness

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The urgency to destigmatize mental illness

Kendra Randle

Kendra Randle

Kendra Randle

Kendra Randle


In our society, suicide rates continue to rise at an alarming rate, but we fear the discussion about mental health due to a lack of knowledge and judgement towards those who are mentally ill. Teenagers often have mental disorders that are often undetected leading to difficulty within their life. It’s time that we educate our youth about their mental health.

New York Times Best Selling Author, John Green, revealed during an interview for 60 Minutes that he has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD); a mental disorder he has struggled with since high school. Authors aren’t the only ones who are affected by mental illness, people of all backgrounds experience issues with their mental health. However, teenagers are at an increased risk for mental illness due to the rapid changes that occur within the body. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one out of five teens have a mental illness. This means that in a typical class of 30 students, at least six students will have a mental disorder. Additionally, suicide is the third leading cause of death between ages 10-19. Mental illness is rampant among teenagers and we are failing our youth by stigmatizing common illnesses that teens face.

Mental illness is rampant among teenagers and we are failing our youth by stigmatizing common illnesses that teens face.”

According to the American Psychiatric Association,mental illnesses are health conditions involving changes in behavior, emotion, or thinking that is distressing to one’s life. Mental disorders also range in categories: anxiety, mood, psychotic, personality, eating, and substance abuse disorders. Similar to physical illness, mental disorders disrupt a person’s ability to function in their everyday life. According to the World Health Organization, “16 percent of global burden of disease”, or the impact of an illness, in 10-19 aged individuals is due to mental disorders. Additionally, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that 50 percent of mentally ill adolescence, aged 14 and older, withdraw from school.

Mental illness is a legitimate health condition. If we continue to treat teens, who are mentally ill, as a burden and not give them proper care, adolescents will suffer due to neglect. Teenagers are the future of society, and not caring for them properly hurts our future. The only way to ensure that teenagers and our future are protected is to destigmatize and address mental illness.

Destigmatizing mental illness occurs through education. Educating students, parents, teachers, and counselors about mental health is necessary for the overall well being of a child. If a child can recognize the signs and symptoms of a mental illness, they may be more willing to ask for help and understand that treatment methods, such as therapy, aren’t a negative matter. Additionally, informing adults can greatly help teenagers. Adults will be able to notice the signs of a student, who may be mentally ill, and not treat them as a problem child. They will be able to see beyond the child’s actions and realize that there is an underlying issue. Educating parents on signs of a mental illness may help them determine whether or not their child’s behavior is normal for a teen, or if there is a problem. Most importantly, adults have the ability to offer resources to teenagers. Teens look to adults for help, and it’s the adult’s job to aid them in their path to recovery.

As a society, it’s imperative that we stop being afraid of discussing mental illness. John Green openly discussed his battle to the world. Men particularly fear sharing their struggles with others. His bravery demonstrates that it is okay to not be okay and to talk about mental illness. It’s common that people suffer from one or multiple mental conditions. We need to treat mental disorders as an illness. Mental illness is not something that someone can control, just like a physical disease. According to the World Health Organization, 50 percent of mental illnesses begin at age 14. Starting programs in the early years will inform teenagers about mental illness, so if they begin to exhibit symptoms, they have a strong basis of what to do. Educating also ensures that teenagers will become proactive adults. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that it takes 8-10 years for an individual with a mental illness to receive proper treatment.

This needs to end. Incorporating discussions about mental health will promote a healthier society for teens and all ages. Let’s empower our youth by educating them about their health. Our future will depend on it. 

National Suicide Prevention Hotline-


Links for Mental Health Resources-

Here’s a link that has resources for teenagers, young adults, parents, and professionals. This includes behavioral health services locators, suicide prevention tips, link to online support, etc…

This links includes online resources, app and tech services, resources institutes, meditation guides, helplines and advocacy for mental health.

More Information on How to Fight the Mental Health Stigma

Remember that life is always worth living and if you are struggling with a mental disorder or suicidal thoughts, please tell a trusted adult and get help. There’s nothing wrong with needing help.