70% of teens say mental health is ‘a major struggle’ for their peers
One of the most difficult parts of living with any mental illness – whether it is depression, substance abuse, schizophrenia, or an eating disorder – is how isolating they can be. Between the fears of being shunned and the feeling that others won’t understand, it can be incredibly difficult to open up about your experiences with mental illness to even your closest friends and family.
Of course, the statistics on mental illness show that you are far from alone. Millions of people struggle with mental health issues every year. However, the stigma surrounding mental illness keeps people from talking openly about them.
Thankfully, a recent study suggests this is starting to change.
A Pew Research Center survey of 920 teens between the ages of 13 to 17 indicates younger Americans are becoming more empathetic about the dangers of mental illness and more aware of just how prevalent these conditions are.
The survey covered a wide range of issues among teens, including asking about their family life, goals for the future, and daily pressures. It also inquired about their experiences with mental health.
While the study supported the current belief that approximately 20% of teens experience some form of mental health issue – depression and anxiety being the most common – it also included a surprising finding.
According to the data, approximately 70% of teens say mental health is a major struggle for their peers.
The data could be interpreted in a number of ways. While some might say it reflects the growing issue of teenage mental illness, it is also possible to see it from another more optimistic perspective.
Specifically, the finding could suggest that teens are becoming more comfortable talking about their experiences with mental health issues with their friends. This would lead to a larger number of their peers to understand how common mental illness is and the more subtle ways it can affect a person’s life.
As clinical senior lecturer at King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience told The Atlantic, “It’s both worrying and positive at the same time.”
“In terms of more people saying they know someone [with mental illness], it may be because the rates are going up, but it may also be because of a greater level of awareness.”
Henderson also noted that simply knowing someone with mental health issues can have a profound effect on a person’s understanding of mental illnesses as a whole.
“Those factors are much more strongly associated with having positive attitudes [about mental health] than any kind of demographic characteristics.”