Dear Future President,
In this day and age, there are many problems plaguing our nation. Old problems resurface and new ones arise, and it is our duty as Americans to solve these problems in order to make life better for all of us. One of these problems is the lack of mental health awareness. All throughout America, many of our citizens are silently struggling. They have diseases that most of us do not understand, and disorders that are never talked about. The stigma of mental illness is only hurting America, and we need to start bringing awareness to these disorders immediately.
Mental Illness or mental disorders are characterized by a wide range of conditions that affect mood, thinking, and behavior. They can range from being mildly inconvenient to completely debilitating. And despite the massive amounts of people in our country that have diagnosable symptoms, many go without treatment because of stigma. The media has a habit of demonizing the mentally ill. Because of this, many believe that mental illness is an excuse for laziness. Yet just because we can not physically see that something is wrong, it does not mean that mental illness does not exist. If someone told you that they had cancer, would you not believe them? Questions like “Are you sure you have cancer?” or “Maybe you should just pretend you don’t have it and it’ll go away.” are not things you would say to a cancer patient. So why would we say them to someone who is mentally ill?
Mental illness also carries many misconceptions, simply because it is not taught to people properly. OCD, or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, is often just seen as someone being a neat-freak, but really it involved several obsessive and compulsive actions, hence its name, as well as extreme anxiety and emotional distress. Psychopathic people are often shown in media to be insane murderers when really their brain just has the inability to feel empathy. Misconceptions hurt people, and one of the groups most heavily affected by the ignorance of mental health is children. “1 in 5 children will be diagnosed with mental illness,” says the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and without proper awareness and education on what they are struggling with, kids are often left feeling alone and hopeless. And because of this, teen suicide rates are soaring.
Cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease, still cause less deaths than suicide in teens and young adults, combined. “It is the second leading cause of death in America for ages 10-24.” claims the Jason Foundation. These young children are not given the opportunity to live a full life because they feel such a frustration and hopelessness that they are not able to seek help for. And one of the reasons for this is the fear of stigma. If we continue to treat mental health as something that is wrong and inappropriate, children will continue to not seek help for their disorders.
In order to solve the problem of teen suicide, Mental Health Education MUST be improved. Schools must treat mental disorders as any other physical disability, and show students that they are not alone in their battles. In doing this, teens will be properly educated on how to help someone struggling with mental illness, as well as not be afraid of stigma from parents or peers when sharing that they may be suffering. In order to stop our children from dying at their own hands, we must take action and make sure they get the proper education to deal with this rising problem. Hopefully you will help bring Mental Health into the limelight, so that we can stop the deaths of these children and make sure that no one must struggle with a disorder that they are too afraid to seek help for.