Every year, October 10th is World Mental Health Day. It’s a day that aims to raise awareness of mental health issues while changing attitudes and reducing stigma. In 2018, the World Health Organization’s focus is on the mental health challenges faced by teens and young adults. Too many young people have serious mental illnesses but are taught nothing about them.
Mental illness affects millions of people all around the world, and it develops in about three-fourths of those affected by the age of 24. Early detection, treatment and support for a young person with mental health challenges can help reduce the impact of severe mental illness. World Mental Health Day is a time for raising awareness about mental illness, including recognition of symptoms and options for treatment.
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A Challenging World for Young People
It’s a challenging and changing world for today’s youth. There are many transformative changes that happen during the teens and early twenties such as leaving home for the first time and making long-term decisions about the future. At the same time there is a lot of turbulence in the news including natural disasters, violence and economic uncertainty, along with the evolving world of social media, which has opened the door to cyberbullying and other cybercrimes.
Many young people are vulnerable to the increasing stresses they are facing, which includes peer pressure and self-doubt. Some may develop mental illness because of the constant stress they are facing, while others may be vulnerable because of a family history of mental illness.
Some of what today’s youth struggle with include:
- Bullying and cyberbullying
- Effects of trauma
- Gender identity
- Self-harm and suicidal tendencies
Prevalence of Mental Illness in Young People
The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports the following facts and statistics about mental illness in teens and young adults:
- Between the ages of 13 and 18, approximately one out of every five youth experiences a mental disorder at some point in their lives.
- Seven out of 10 youth in juvenile justice systems have a mental illness, and two out of 10 suffer from a serious mental illness.
- Approximately half of chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14.
- There are sometimes decades between the time symptoms begin and when people get treatment.
The Stigma of Mental Illness
An unfortunate fact is that many people of all ages avoid asking for help for mental health challenges because of fear of stigma. Negative attitudes toward those who struggle with mental illness are common. People may assume that those who have mental illness are unstable, violent or weak.
Negative attitudes about mental illness come from lack of knowledge of what mental illness is, along with the many treatment options that make it possible to live a happy and productive life with mental health challenges. Those who are in the mental health community need to stand up to stigma by talking openly about mental illness, and this is one of the goals of World Mental Health Day.
A Day to Speak Out Against Stigma
Judgmental attitudes against people with mental illness won’t change until there is more education and awareness about this topic. On World Mental Health Day, people are encouraged to spread the word that mental illness is usually treatable.
Early detection and early intervention can make a tremendous difference in the lives of those who struggle with mental health challenges, particularly for adolescents and young adults. Young people with untreated mental illness may turn to alcohol or drugs, develop eating disorders or they may attempt or commit suicide.
Observing World Mental Health Day
Wearing a green ribbon on World Mental Health Day is a way to show support for the movement. Sharing personal stories and struggles with mental illness are opportunities to educate those who know little or nothing about it. Mental health professionals are also encouraged to talk about their work, how it changes lives and what can be done to make mental health treatment more accessible for people worldwide.
Join the conversation and speak out against stigma or ignorance about mental illness. On social media, use the hashtag #worldmentalhealthday and stay connected on Twitter at @WMHDay. Learn more about World Mental Health Day 2018 and help spread the word of hope and available help.
If you or a loved one are struggling with a mental health crisis, please contact us at (855) 409-0204 or submit the form below and a treatment specialist will contact you.