There is an ever-increasing need for mental health intervention in the United States. According to Mental Health America, 15.08% of youth in the U.S. experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. Equally concerning is that suicide has become the second leading cause of death in individuals aged 10-34. While the discussion of mental health has become more widespread, the stigma surrounding mental illness is still prevalent. In fact, these stigmas will cause individuals to delay or avoid treatment altogether. Mental health stigmas have other impacts including work discrimination, social isolation, and inadequate coverage for mental health treatment.
We must continue the dialogue surrounding mental health in every age group, including youth. Early intervention, when combined with compassionate dialogue and adequate access to treatment, will lead to a greater support for American youth dealing with mental illness. This will improve the quality of life for youth in the U.S.
What can I do about this?
1. Be conscious of the language used when discussing mental health. What words or phrases are you or others using that perpetuate negative stereotypes? Consider and point out how these stigmas appear in media including television, film, and news outlets.
2. Familiarize yourself and support organizations like NAMI, Bring Change to Mind, and Stamp Out Stigma. These organizations, along with others, are working to open an honest dialogue about mental illness, while also providing resources for youth, caregivers, and activists.