The Ups and Downs of Mental Illness

Abigail Sciannella, Staff Writer

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It seems that everyone has made some form of a mental illness joke at least once in their high school career. Whether it’s “I’m gonna kill myself,” “I’m so OCD,” or the ever so popular “are you triggered?” Mental illness jokes are common among teenagers. However, it’s not clear whether most students understand how serious mental illness really is.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages ten through twenty-four, according to the Jason Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing teen suicide. Mental illness runs rampant through the halls of every middle school, high school and college as depression, anxiety, and ADD/ADHD create challenges for these young people.  However, while these are the most common, teens are exposed to even more forms of mental illness including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Any and all of these have the potential to lead to feelings of despair, loneliness, and discouragement which can lead to suicide. That is why experts agree that for any young person experiencing mental illness in any form, immediate attention is necessary.

There are many aspects of mental illness that the average teen doesn’t realize. A big warning sign of mental illness or risk of suicide is, according to a therapist at Collaborative Counselling in Columbia, “if you see someone who’s isolated, they are more at risk, and if you are more isolated you are more at risk. The key is connection with other people, and the people who don’t talk about suicide are the most at risk.”
So while people may be more concerned with those who talk outwardly about hurting or killing themselves, experts agree that people should be just as focused, if not more focused, on those who stand quietly in the shadows, unassuming and silent. Those who need the most help won’t ask, it must be offered.

Many factors can cause mental illness, such as trauma, genetics, or your environment. No matter the cause, it is important to deal with the resulting condition. There is, however, one factor that plagues most high school students: stress. Stress can lead to anxiety attacks, physical illness, fatigue, and high blood pressure, according to the American Psychological Association. While everyone is concerned for their GPA and future, what they really need to be concerned about is their mental capacity for handling stress and how it’s affecting their body and mind.

A large amount of people in any school have put their schoolwork before their mental health at least once in their high school career, as that is what students are taught to do. School work before anything else. But what many  don’t realize is that your mind needs to be tended to just as your body does.

Mental health is a complicated thing. Even if you’re completely lacking in mental illness, you can still be susceptible to depressive episodes or panic attacks, all of which depend on your surroundings and stress levels. These episodes or attacks can only worsen for those with any form of mental illness.

As an anonymous senior who suffers from bipolar disorder states, “No one I know takes mental illness as seriously as they should, whether it’s their own or someone else’s. This needs to change.”

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The Ups and Downs of Mental Illness