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An open letter on mental health awareness

By Giselle Perez Apolinar

Staff Writer

Half of all mental health disorders begin by the age of fourteen. Some teens need to take medication and even that can take time for the right medication to support a person’s well-being. Everyone has stress in life and experiences pressure every now and then, but there are people who struggle with their thoughts daily. It is only worse when a teen, who is still discovering their identity, begins to develop a mental health disorder that can completely change their perspective of the world. Making safe spaces a priority in schools can help teens feel supported and can prevent their mental health from getting worse.

Mental health can affect every aspect of our lives, from the way we feel, to the way we think and even the way we act. It is important to prioritize caring for our mental well-being because a mental health disorder does not go away and can lead to suicide.

About one in five teens live with at least one disorder. I believe that we should take mental health more seriously in schools because it can often be where teens don’t feel the safest and their mental health is worsened by avoiding it. Adolescents with a mental health disorder can often feel overwhelmed and out of place, especially during adolescence; getting caught up in it all can easily happen without the necessary support. Having school be a safe environment can be comforting to someone who is in a dark place.

Personally, living with Generalized Anxiety Disorder hasn’t been easy. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is having excessive worry/anxiety about everyday situations which can lead to interference in daily life. When I was diagnosed, I felt disappointed with myself that my anxiety had gotten much worse, it was now being labeled as a disorder.

I’ve had days where I felt I wasn’t getting better, but being around people that cared and listened really helped. Knowing that I had a mentor at school that I could talk to and teachers that cared about me was more helpful than any other support. I feel that not having someone who showed that they cared would have changed my experience a lot.

It’s important to know that our mental well-being affects everyone, even if you don’t have a mental health disorder. You can still have poor mental health that affects your goals in life or someone you know could have a disorder that may affect your relationship with them.

Mental health is a topic that needs to be talked about more because so many people are affected by it in some way. Having a room at school where students can go when someone needs a break can be helpful. By educating and making safe spaces available to staff, parents and students on the topic of mental health, everyone can be aware of how to support someone in need. Removing all stigmas around mental health and letting it be known that it’s okay to reach out can help more students get the support that they need. 

There are many other ways in which schools can prioritize their students’ mental health, yet having that conversation is an important first step to providing a safe space. In order to take care of each other as a society, it is important that we implement changes in the way we address our mental health. Having mental health be a priority in schools can make students feel cared about, and that alone makes all the difference.

FEATURED IMAGE (at the top of this post): Getty Images/iStockPhoto (Photo Credit: Kubkoo)

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