Teens and Mental Health Awareness: How Lady Gaga is Making A Difference
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, statistics among teens and mental health disorders are staggering:
- Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14 and 1 in 5 children, either currently or at some point during their life, have had a seriously debilitating mental illness (CDC).
- Suicide was the second leading cause of death for teens aged 13 to 18 (CDC).
The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (2014) also states that more than 1 in 10 children between 12 and 17 years old experienced an episode of major depression. That means for at least 2 weeks, the teen was depressed or lost interest or pleasure in other activities and could not function normally, having trouble with things like sleep or concentration. UPenn School of Medicine also listed the most common mental illnesses in teens:
- Generalized anxiety – excessive worry about everyday occurrences
- Depression – chronic feelings of sadness, anxiety, and/or emptiness
- Social phobias – severe feelings of self-consciousness in social settings
So What Is Being Done?
While these statistics and facts are alarming, big stars like Lady Gaga are shedding a major spotlight and changing the national conversation on teens and mental health. In a recent press release (2019), Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation and the National Council for Behavioral Health announced they will expand teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA) to 20 additional high schools around the country this fall 2019. The new peer-to-peer program empowers young people to support each other in times of crisis. Lady Gaga passionately states, “We put this program in eight schools and soon it will be in 20 more. I know for certain that I’m not stopping here. I want the teen Mental Health First Aid program in every school in this country.”
tMHFA is an in-person training for high school students in grades 10 to 12 to learn about mental illnesses, including how to identify and respond to a developing mental health or substance use problem among their peers. Students learn a 5-step action plan to help their friends who may be facing a mental health problem or crisis, such as suicide, and highlights the important step of involving a responsible and trusted adult.
Betsy Schwartz, vice president for public education and strategic initiatives at the National Council for Behavioral Health stated, “It’s so important that teens have the skills to help each other in the language that they use every day, that is the power of peer-to-peer intervention. This innovative new program will help us reach more young people in need as we break down misconceptions about mental illness and grow our family of 1.7 million Mental Health First Aiders.” Johns Hopkins University will collect results from the pilot project to evaluate its success.
Teens, Mental Health, Addiction, and Help
Mental health organizations such as these as well as many advocacy groups all over the country believe that early diagnosis, intervention, and appropriate services for teens and their families can make a difference in the lives of those with mental health disorders. UPenn School of Medicine also recommends looking at the following symptoms in your teen to determine if an appointment with a doctor or specialist should be warranted:
- new onset of guilt
- thoughts of suicide
- changes in motivation
- changes in sleep and energy level
- changes in concentration or task completion
- changes in appetite
If your teen is having thoughts of suicide or in crisis, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Network at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Calls are routed to the nearest crisis center. Counselors at these centers can then provide appropriate local resources if needed. There is also a Crisis Text Line, Text TALK to 741-741 to text with a trained crisis counselor for free, 24/7. There are also many national and federal organizations you can research through The Suicide Prevention Resource Center. This center offers trusted, valuable, and current sources of information as well as funding opportunities, training, technical assistance, and resources.
If you or a teen you love suffers from a mental health and substance use disorder, get help now. Mental health and substance use disorders often co-occur and must be treated simultaneously as a dual diagnosis for the best success in recovery. There is no cure for addiction, but treatment is available and there is hope in recovery. Contact us today at 1-833-2DAYLIGHT to get the help you need.