Mental Health: A Call to Action

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Juliette Weber

West Delaware students’ mental health struggles as life and COVID-19 bring a whirlwind of stress.

Juliette Weber, Staff

Picture your future.

 What does it look like? 

Now, go back in time, back to when you were ten or twelve years old. How did you think high school would be?

For most teenagers, high school isn’t what they thought it would be. Students are expected to perform at a high level of responsibility before they are legal adults. 

Schoolwork, sports, other extracurricular activities, and a job all require teenagers’ attention— sometimes all at once. Mental health isn’t often a priority for teenagers these days, until they reach a breaking point. Trust me, I know. 

However, teenagers have found unhealthy ways to cope with stress, anxiety, and depression. According to a 2022 Mental Health America survey, Iowa was one of the top states with increased youth substance abuse, increasing by .87 percent. 

Although the increase seems small, 12,000 youth struggle with substance abuse in Iowa. Poor mental health can lead youth to these outlets, and 16.69 percent, or about 41,000 Iowan youth, have experienced a major depressive episode in just the last year. 

The hardest part, in my opinion, is pinpointing whether or not you need to seek help as a teenager. As a group, are we just stressed and drained from an overload of responsibilities?

Most teenagers do not know when to seek help or where the line blurs from stress into developing a mental health issue such as anxiety or depression. 

As a teenager, the journey from recognizing a mental health issue to reaching help is a long road. Unfortunately, in Iowa the ratio between persons needing help compared to the number of mental health providers is 610:1. The lack of mental health providers makes it even more challenging to get the necessary help. Even after the long journey, with or without parental and peer support, there’s no guarantee of help.

It’s like this hole you’re in and you don’t realize you’re in it because it’s so deep. It can be extremely hard to get out.”

— West Delaware Student

 Mental health needs to be a serious widespread discussion in America as soon as possible. I’ve seen self-harm, felt anxiety and depression, known a peer who ended their life, and watched teenagers and adults alike turn to substance abuse to avoid confronting the thoughts in their head. 

I’m not the only student who doesn’t want to leave their bed some mornings or who carries burdens no one else may see. 

One student said, “It’s like this hole you’re in and you don’t realize you’re in it because it’s so deep. It can be extremely hard to get out.”

They may not be brave enough to ask for help, so I’ll ask for them.

Check on your son, daughter, cousin or friend. 

Mental health isn’t the silly little joke some may think it is. It’s costing teenagers and adults the lives of loved ones.

Picture your future.

Who’s missing? 

Now, come back to the present, and join in the conversation on mental health to guarantee that future and the people in it.