Dear Future President,
There are many issues that face this country, some that are easy to solve, while others are more complicated. You can help solve all of these, if you bring attention to them. The issue of mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety is faced by many Americans and needs to be addressed. I personally have seen many friends deal with depression and it pains me to see them not get the help that they need, as well as being stigmatized due to their issues.
Although only 8% of teenagers suffer from depression, according to the U.S Department of Health and Human services, 62% of those reported feeling stigmatized by their peers. Their friends would feel uncomfortable and avoid them after being told of their depression. This makes people feel uncomfortable in sharing their issues, and can prevent them from getting the help that they need.
Teenagers aren’t the only ones who suffer. The National Institute of Mental Health says about 15 million adults suffer as well. Even though our population in the U.S is a lot larger than that, it should be important to focus on this issue, because 15 million is not a small number by any means.
Celebrities speaking about their own depression has helped start conversations about mental health. Their personal experiences can help people who look up to them speak out about their own depression to their friends and family. Katrina Gay of the National Alliance on Mental illness said, “you’ll see this huge shift, especially with young people and people who are really on the fringes, who are more isolated socially, when they see someone like a Kristen Bell or a Demi Lovato being open, they're now encouraged to be more open.” Celebrities being honest has made a difference, but more needs to be done.
Some people can feel that talking about it could cause bullying and make a situation worse. Eva Rosenfeld and Madeline Halpert, two students who wrote an article about their experiences with depression, thought that viewpoint pushed the stigma further. Eva said, “The stigma surrounding depression makes people feel like they can’t talk about it openly-”(“We Have Depression”). Their article tells about their classmates that also suffer from depression, and how it can affect anyone, regardless of who they are.
As president, you are in charge of what can be done. Having more resources available to help in understanding depression and mental illness would help stop the stigma that is often associated with it. Focusing on spreading awareness and information nationally will let sufferers know they are not alone, and that they can get help. Those resources, along with more access to services like therapists and other mental health professionals will help people get help, and prevent their condition from worsening.
Letting millions of people live in fear of being abandoned and misunderstood by loved ones and peers due to their illness is something that needs to be fixed in our country, it will only get worse if we don’t. As a country, we need to improve our attitudes towards mental illnesses and the people who suffer from them. We need to help promote healing, rather than promote ignorance to this issue.
Jones, Jaleesa M. "Why Celebrity Accounts of Depression Are Vital." USA Today. Gannett, 31 Aug. 2016. Web. 28 Oct. 2016. http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/2016/08/31/celebrity-disclosures-depression/89418486/
"Stigmatization of Teen Depression." Youth Radio. N.p., 2016. Web. 28 Oct. 2016. https://youthradio.org/yr-raw/student-content/stigmatization-of-teen-depression/
""We Have Depression"" Choices. N.p., 2015. Web. 28 Oct. 2016. http://choices.scholastic.com/story/we-have-depression