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May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Brianna Brown, PR Manager

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In the United States today, the youth face an ever-increasing level of competition. This is due to taking rigorous school courses, joining clubs and sports and worrying about future career possibilities. While most of these students try to compete with others across the nation, their mental health or mental state can deteriorate, leaving them sad, depressed and, for some, suicidal.
The definition of mental health revolves around the idea of a person’s condition with regard to his or her physiological and emotional well being. Physically and emotionally healthy people can be seen engaging with others, participating in activities, feeling happy and feeling sure about themselves. Someone who is developing a mental illness can appear depressed, reclusive or distracted; furthermore, the individual may demonstrate high and low mood changes and experience constant fears, worries or guilt.
Having a mental illness does not make a person less valuable than others who do not. It is not caused by a person’s inability to keep up with the daily grind in life. Mental illness can also be caused by genetics, environmental factors or psychological trauma.
Although mental illness has taken ahold of people of all different ages, it seems that “20% of youth ages 13-18 live with a mental health condition” (https://www.nami.org). People within this age group seem either to develop this illness from past experiences or encounter problems over a short amount of time. Teenagers who experience mental illness often tend to keep their problems to themselves and refuse the idea of getting help from a parent or guardian. According to the government’s Youth Mental Health Page, “six percent of 12 to 17-year-olds and 5.4 percent of 18 to 25-year-olds had at least one major depressive episode with severe impairment” (http://youth.gov).
In addition to the mental health issue that is prevalent in the United States, teenage suicide is increasing every year. According to the Parent Research Program, “each day in our nation, there [is] an average of over 3,470 attempts by young people grades 9-12” (http://prp.jasonfoundation.com).
What can we do as a school to prevent more teen deaths from occurring and lessen the hardships of having a mental illness? The best thing for members of a school community to do is to become aware of every student’s situation. If anyone sees a student who is acting abnormally, a member of the school crisis team – Ms. Aronson, Mrs. Rosa, Mrs. Brown, Mrs. Pilon, Dr. Samia or an administrator should be notified immediately. The faculty will help any student who feels distraught or sad. The key is to comfort those individuals and let them know that many teenagers throughout the United States go through these experiences and that they are not alone.
In addition to recognizing symptoms in those who are feeling depressed or suicidal, students also have the option of reaching out to NAMI-OC (National Alliance on Mental Illness, Orange County). The organization educates parents and guardians while also providing mental health classes, support groups, presentations and a mental health hotline (714) 991-6412. They also have an emergency hotline as well, in case a student is in grave danger 1-866-830-6011.
Mental illness doesn’t define who you are as a human being. Having a mental illness can be challenging, but you do not have to go through this experience alone. Lean on others who love and support you and take the time to learn more about yourself.

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The student news site of Laguna Beach High School
May is Mental Health Awareness Month