Ignored and Worsened
There are a lot of instances in the United States where mental health issues fall into the hands of young teenagers who have no idea how to handle the situation. The most common mental disorders found in teens are Depression, Social Anxiety Disorder, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder, and Bipolar Disorder. A teenager with any of these disorders left untreated can lead to something more extreme such as self-harm which then leads to an addiction of self-mutilation. Since these are still children who are dealing with these issues, parents come into the picture in a large part, and there is a chance that if kids feel that if their parents were to find out they were harming themselves, their parents would go on a tangent about it. In fear of being scolded and not getting the help they need, the teenager hides their illness and puts on a façade that they are happy, when in reality their life is getting so difficult to deal with that they are considering ending it themselves.
It’s no secret that the stigma on mental health goes back to the time when most millennials parents were born. During the nineteen sixties, seventies, eighties even, mental health wasn’t as engraved in society as it is today. The new generation these days are exposed to far more than their parents were because of the internet and because of this, kids from the tender age of ten and older are exposed to an endless array information to search. This can be both positive and negative. The positive attributes of the way teens can find information is that they can learn about mental illness, find out whether to question if they have it or not, converse with others who have the same illness, and learn ways to cope with it. The negative effects through is that they are able to find ways to hurt themselves. They can find horror stories of parents punishing their children for their self-harming behavior, or even parents adding fuel to the fire and dismissing their child’s illness instead of assisting them in getting the help they need. Doing this both feeds into the stigma on mental health, and worsens the patients disorder.
Addiction plays a large part in mental illness. If the illness is left untreated, people will go to extreme measures to find a way to stop the symptoms themselves. In younger patients, the most common addiction becomes the addiction of self-harm which can be carried out by cutting, burning, or even breaking their own bones. Others become either drug addicts, alcoholics, or even nymphomaniacs. They will take anything to numb the pain they are feeling, or anything to make them feel like they are alive, and not being taken over and controlled by this illness bouncing around in their heads. This kind of behavior can be seen as reckless and irresponsible, which is what most of society would say about someone who abuses these resources, rather than stopping and thinking, “Maybe this person needs help.” Not only does the stigma lead to addiction, but it can also create self-stigmatizing. This is when the patient starts to question whether they have the disorder themselves and discrediting their disorder, which is dangerous.
Let’s say a young teenage girl has been dealing with a lot of issues due to her sexuality. She gets scared, she thinks of what her friends and family have said about the subject over the years, and she decides to stay in the closet. Doing so, she grows depressed, she grows anxious. Then at school she gets bullied physically and emotionally after being outed by a boy who just wanted to have a laugh. This takes a toll on her. She loses friends, and herself, becoming scared and feeling alone. She begins to take a blade to her skin and she doesn’t tell anyone because she doesn’t think her condition is serious enough, though it is growing more serious each and every day. She talks to her friends about it but they dismiss it. The internet is making her think she’s faking her symptoms so she sits back and tells herself that she’ll get over it on her own. She tries to take her own life when they don’t. After that she’s placed in the Adolescent Mental Health Unit for a week and gets diagnosed with depression and for once she feels validated by someone and is getting the help she needs. Though it took way too long to get there.
That is exactly what the stigma is doing. If she could have been honest about what was going on in her head in the first place without a fear of judgement or ridicule, she would have gotten the right help she needed before the self-mutilation or suicide attempt to have someone take her seriously. It should not take someone coming close to taking their own life to get the proper help they need. Not all people with depression, bipolar disorder, OCD, ADHD, etc. want to kill themselves, no but eventually some of them do. This stigma causes death. And it has to be stopped so the patients without doctors can get the doctors they need, the medication they need, the help they need. The mental health movement needs to go forwards, not backwards.
Davey, Graham C.L., Ph.D. “Mental Health & Stigma.” Psychology Today. N.p., 20 Apr. 2013. Web. 26 Mar. 2017.
“Gluck, Samantha. “Stigma and Discrimination: The Effect of Stigma.” Healthyplace. N.p., 29 Dec. 2015. Web. 26 Mar. 2017.
The Effect of Stigma.” See Change. N.p., 29 July 2013. Web. 26 Mar. 2017.