Coping with Mental Illness

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In the United States, 20 percent of young adults from the ages of 13-18 are currently living with some sort of mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Anxiety is the no. 1 mental disorder in America, and it goes hand in hand with depression.

Depression in teens is something that has increasingly become more prevalent in today’s society, however it is not being talked about very much.

It is important to understand the differences between feeling sad and being depressed. We all experience sadness at times, just like we all experience happiness or anger or any other emotion for that matter.

Emotions are just another part of life, and with that being said, they are completely normal. However, there is a point where sadness can become more than just that. Depression is caused by having extremely serious feelings of despondency. Some warning signs to look out for in someone who you think might be depressed are:

  • High increase or severe lack of sleep
  • Over or under-eating
  • Withdrawn or isolated state
  • Anhedonia (not being able to enjoy or find pleasure in things)
  • Intense mood swings
  • Abnormal agitation
  • Significant weight gain or weight loss

If you have reason to believe that you or someone you know is struggling with any type of mental illness, get help immediately. Do not be afraid to help your friends, because chances are they are desperately seeking it but are unable to get it on their own. There are a few steps you can take in order to get help for yourself or someone else.

  • First and foremost, it is imperative that you inform a trusted adult about the situation. Though this step may be the hardest, it is the one that will pay off the most in the long run. If you tell an adult, they will be able to help assess the issue and possibly provide you with the necessary help you need. Some examples of a trusted adult can be:
    • A parent or legal guardian
    • A teacher
    • A school counselor
    • An older sibling
  • Get some fresh air. The environment around you and all of your surroundings subconsciously have an impact on your emotions. If you feel like you aren’t able to get up and go for a walk, try getting up and opening your blinds. Baby steps are still steps.
  • Drink a big glass of water. Staying hydrated really is beneficial, not only for your physical health but for your mental health too.
  • Eat something, anything. You don’t even have to eat a full meal, you can start with a small snack. Aim for something quick and easy that doesn’t require too much effort to make.
  • Push yourself to do something that you might end up enjoying. I know that staying wrapped up in your blankets forever probably seems much more appealing than making plans to go out, but it will be worth it. If you can’t bring yourself to go out, try calling a close friend to see if they can come to you instead. Talking to someone in person is a good thing. Human interaction is a good thing! You can do it.
  • Check up on your friends! If you notice a loved one hasn’t been acting the same lately, talk to them about it. The most important thing you can do is love them and be there for them. Let them know that they have your complete and utter support.
  • Encourage yourself/your friends. Remind yourself that even though you are right in the pit of this thing, it really will get better. You are strong, you are powerful, and you can do this.

If you are struggling with depression or any other mental disorder for that matter, understand that you are not alone, despite what you may or may not be thinking. Remember that the first step is to take action. Go tell someone. You are loved, you are cared for, and you matter. Mental health is serious and as a society we need to be more aware of it.

For resources on campus, visit the MRHS counselors:

For information online, including hotlines, visit NAMI:   

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