By: Serena Zets – Pittsburgh CAPA
I wish that more adults understood the toll that mental illness has on teenagers. Adults always manage to attribute everything back to the fact that we’re “just teenagers.” Mentally ill teenagers often hear, “it’s just the stress of school”, “you don’t have anything to worry about, wait until the real world hits you”, “it’s just a case of teen angst”, or “you don’t get enough sleep”. All of this may be true, but that reasoning invalidates and discredits the real pain that a lot of teenagers experience. These invalidation’s turn negative when they keep teenagers from seeking the medical help they need. Or even worse, they feel hopeless and start to harm themselves. It’s a slippery slope, and without adult intervention and understanding, too many teens will be left asking themselves how did I get here?
It’s reported that over 58 million adults over the age of 18 suffer from a mental illness of some kind. The real number must be much higher since the stigmas surrounding mental illness discourage people from getting formally diagnosed. This statistic alone makes the adult misunderstanding of teen mental illness even more surprising to me. You’d think most adults would understand what we’re going through, but opposite actions seem to occur. Adults distance their experiences from youth as an effort to stall triggers, but this shouldn’t be the case. Rather than apathy, these adults must demonstrate empathy in order to show us that it can get better. This simple act makes all the difference.
Serena Zets is a sophomore at Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts High School. At CAPA, her discipline is literary arts where she received the opportunity to take part in an introductory journalism course. She is a resident of Squirrel Hill where she bakes, reads, and most importantly sleeps.