Living in today’s era, you might hear something along the lines of, “Kids these days are too sensitive.” Most kids, especially of Generation Z, have seen and heard this sentence. Now imagine this: you’re a teen living in this era and are constantly getting your mental health declined with the excuse of, “You’re young. You’re just going through a phase.” Now you’re the teen that people don’t listen to and have to deal with the issues in your head alone. It’s the same as preventing someone with a virus their medical treatment with the excuse of “their immune system is all they need.” But in this case, the person with the virus would actually receive treatment.
Adults don’t take teens’ mental health seriously. Any issue a teen has is always equated to just having a phase. One thing adults need to start considering is the world that most teenagers of this day and age see and experience. According to an APA “Stress in America” report, a survey that focuses on the concerns of Americans within the ages of 15 and 21, many factors around them can cause stress. These factors include gun violence causing many to worry about safety in school, stresses about political matters including immigration and many more policies that can directly impact their future. Stress is not a mental illness, but when a great level of stressors embed in a person whose mind is especially not developed, they can be more vulnerable to depression and anxiety.
Don’t forget the fact that most of Gen Z grew up with technology and social media. Many factors of social media negatively impact teens. Most factors include cyberbullying, sleep deprivation and comparing other people’s lives to their own. These factors can result in a negative impact on self-esteem.
Many people would bring up how social media glamorizes mental illness. This “trend” is known as “sad online culture.” The issue isn’t that people share their problems with mental health on social media, the problem is them using the topic inappropriately. An example is social media influencers spreading “awareness” for mental health, but profiting off it by making merch. Yes, these situations do look bad, but many other social media pages genuinely spread mental health awareness. Some of these pages can be a community of people who are genuinely trying to get comfort from somewhere that they probably are not getting from the surrounding people. It is not bad to reach out to support groups on social media — not all teens who talk about mental health on social media are doing it for attention or just be “quirky.”
Understanding all the possibilities of why a teen is acting out or are saying they are stressed is important. It’s complicated to open up how you feel to other people. So, if a teen comes to you and says they’re feeling down, or that they are stressed, just listen to them. Hear what they have to say and don’t dismiss their feelings. This doesn’t make kids “soft” or “sensitive.” If anything it makes them stronger than they think because they were able to open up to someone, which isn’t easy to do. Just listen; not everything is for “attention.”
If you are interested in mental health treatment, you can research options and apply for financial support using the To Write Love on Her Arms Find Help Tool.
If you are in crisis, you can reach the Samaritan’s Hotline by phone call or text message at 877.870.4673 or chat online at the Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.