Mental Health Stigma and Teens

May 21, 2018

Check out this short video on the Stigma of Mental health in young people.




While discussion of mental health are on the uprise and services are becoming more and more inclusive and accessible, there are still great voids in accessing and utilizing mental health supports. Mental health and illness have long since been an elephant in the room that most people choose to walk around, speak over and ignore for various reasons, many of which lead back to cultural programming and societal perceptions.  Part of my work through the connection clinic is to help Mental health become normal, acceptable and in some sense, COOL.


The cultural and societal stigmas negatively impact our our ability to stay well and stay connected to others who may be experiencing difficulties in their lives. If we don’t address our adult perceptions and stigma-related thoughts of mental health, we will likely pass on this shame to our children, and their children and so on. Then, children and adolescents will NOT come to caregivers, friends, or other trusted support persons when there is a mental, social or emotional need.


For young people, it can be much more difficult to be vulnerable. The teenage years are often when the most struggling takes place. This is the time when youth attempt to find their places in the world, society, social circles and families. Many families and cultures send the message that asking for help or sharing emotional difficulties is not okay, is a sign of weakness, or means that you are “crazy”. When we don't challenge this perception, and strive to understand where it comes from, we are communicating to youth and adults that it is negatively viewed to actively work to improve your mental state, your emotional wellbeing and work to be the best possible version of yourself, and that some topics are off limits to getting help with.


Here are some of the most common symptoms that a child in your life may be struggling with mental health related difficulties:


  • Isolation and distance from others (outside of normal teen behavior)

  • Increased defiance at home or school

  • Abnormal Anger

  • Consistent Sadness  

  • Extreme Worry

  • Change in eating ,sleeping or hygiene habits

  • Bullying or  Discrimination  

  • Expressed lack of empathy for others who prioritize mental health and wellness

  • Use of alcohol or substances

  • Self-Harm

  • Thoughts or acts of Suicide


If you see any of these signs, it is best to check in about, reinforce that it is okay to not always feel top notch, and that there are resources available to help you feel better and not feel alone. After a primary doctor’s visit to rule out any serious medical considerations, then check in with a mental health professional for an assessment of needs. Your child may not open up to you or the professional at first; but as you continue to communicate that is it okay to talk to this professional and to share honestly what your experience is, growth, healing and change can occur.


Schedule a session with me today, if you are interested in an assessment or starting services.


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