Ending the Stigma of Mental Health Issues for Youth
- Posted on: Jun 15 2019
Just like adults, children of all ages can struggle with mental health challenges. Those who do often feel separate or different from their peers. Some who talk about their feelings or who demonstrate the effects of unaddressed mental health challenges are bullied or marginalized by the very group they wish to fit in to. Social exclusion only exacerbates the already-difficult obstacle a child faces in getting the help they need.
Every person facing an emotional or psychological issue deserves a listening ear. The help they need is within reach. However, to get that help, it is necessary for us all to work together to destigmatize the general concept of mental health. There are multiple ways we can do this. If you or someone close to you is showing signs of overwhelming feelings, you can begin to help them by:
- Acknowledging that mental illness is no different than any physical illness one may develop. We would never look at a person with cancer and say they could get better if only they “tried harder.” We must extend the same courtesy to any person with a mental health challenge. Depression, anxiety, and other disorders happen to involve the brain. The brain is no less a physical part of the body than the heart. Observing all illnesses as equal provides the opportunity for a child to speak up about their general sense of wellness.
- Watch your language! For many, many years, it has been common for people of all ages to use words like “crazy” or “freak” to describe people with unregulated emotional behaviors. Language such as this is not humorous – it’s hurtful – and it could very well stand in the way of a child or adolescent feeling safe to admit how they are feeling.
- Be open with children about your own challenges. Just as you would not want someone you love to feel shame around their emotional status, you need to be as compassionate with your own wellness. While children do not need to see you in full struggle, they can benefit from your open and honest communication about the way feelings can come and go. Children gain from understanding that no feelings are “bad” feelings and that all feelings can be addressed in a kind way.
One of the most difficult parts of mental health challenges is that the person who is struggling feels alone. In reality, a large percentage of people have some type of mental health issue. Students may have ADHD or anxiety, new mothers often encounter postpartum depression, many people have some degree of post-traumatic stress disorder. These are all common issues for which help is available.
Connect with a Child Psychiatrist.
Dr. Stull has helped many children and adolescents address mental health issues by first providing them the safe space to talk about the challenges they are facing.
Posted in: Mental Health