Teens with Mental Illnesses: Why Are So Few of Them Treated? | Teen Ink

Teens with Mental Illnesses: Why Are So Few of Them Treated?

October 26, 2015
By sophia1208 BRONZE, Louisville, Colorado
sophia1208 BRONZE, Louisville, Colorado
2 articles 1 photo 6 comments

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People in the United States constantly hear about horrible physical diseases, disorders, and disabilities that children these days have to deal with and suffer through such as cancer, paralysis, etc. But they almost never hear about mental illnesses among the children of this generation, as they are often overlooked or forgotten, despite how serious of an issue they can be. Mental illnesses can cause people severe problems in daily life such as failing in school, becoming antisocial, warping their sense of reality, harming others or themselves, being unable to function properly in society, and suicidal thoughts/actions.


When children with untreated mental illnesses become adults, they become the most likely to suffer poverty, have limited or non-existent employment opportunities, and many end up in prison. A study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health revealed that 65 percent of boys and 75 percent of girls in juvenile detention have at least one mental illness. There are some things that are being done to attempt to treat mental illnesses among teens, but it’s not enough.


1 in 5 children and adolescents between the ages of 13-18 have, or will have, a serious mental illness (NAMI, 2008). Although we know how to treat lots of mental disorders, many children with mental illnesses are not getting treatment. Despite this staggering statistic, only 4% of the total healthcare budget is spent on mental health services (Teen Mental Health, 2015). 70% of adolescents and children with mental illnesses do not receive needed care and treatment for their disorders (NCCP, 2009).


Having a mental illness is not any different than experiencing a physical illness. Mental illnesses are treated like something people choose to have, when that is definitely not the case. And it doesn’t have to be treated that way. It is time that mental illnesses and disabilities be treated the same as we treat physical ones.


There are a few organizations that are really trying to make a difference in the world of teen mental illnesses. Teen Mental Health is a website/organization that educates people about teen mental illnesses, suicide, etc. This creates an impact by letting others know what mental illnesses really are and why they need treatment.


Another organization that is trying to get involved in helping with the issue of mental health in teens is The National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI. On their website, they have an entire section dedicated to how people can get involved and make others aware about mental illnesses. NAMI promotes nationwide awareness events and activities like Mental Illness Awareness Week, National Mental Health Awareness Month intended to fight stigmas and stereotypes. Additionally, they hold NAMIWalks, which are events that spread awareness about mental health and fundraise for those in need. They also fight misconceptions and stigmas about mental illnesses and “equip grassroot leaders with tools, resources and skills necessary to save mental health in all states” (NAMI)
There is not enough being done about teens with mental illnesses. Most teens who struggle with these issues on a day to day basis do not get the support and treatment they need. It can be hard for people to see a sickness when it’s not physically visible such as chicken pox, cancer, or a common cold. Mental illnesses are completely internal, and exist in the brain. But what if mental illnesses were physical little monsters that followed a person around? That’s why Toby Allen decided to create some sketches of little Mental Illness Plushies to help fight the mental health stigma. These little creatures embody different illnesses such as depression, anxiety, borderline personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder, and more. A couple have been made, but there is currently a kickstarter to fund creating more of these little creatures. Spreading awareness and educating people about this topic can drastically change people’s opinions on mental illness and can make people more willing and capable of getting help for themselves or others.


Although there is some being done about this topic, we need to be doing more. Schools should be required to teach about mental illnesses in their health curriculums to educate children about them and give them warning signs if they do feel they are having many of the symptoms of a possible mental illness. The counselors at schools need to be trained to properly deal with mental illnesses and the students need to be reminded regularly that their counselor is there for them. Parents also need to be educated about what to look out for with their children as well as how to deal with children that may end up struggling with mental illnesses throughout their lives. They also need to talk to their children about mental illness to educate them as well.


Individuals who want to get involved with this cause can do many things such as donating to organizations like NAMI, spreading awareness by talking to your children, friends, and family members about mental illness, and helping loved ones with diagnosed or undiagnosed mental illnesses to get treatment.


The author's comments:

I hope that this will help to try to break the stigmas about mental illnesses, as I too have a few. I want all teens with mental illnesses to be able to get the help and treatment they need like I did.


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