September 18, 2015
Sorry, I don’t mean to not be cheerful and use my usual greeting, but I thought it might be a little inappropriate for this topic. This blog has always been a platform for me to talk about what ever was on my mind and I am going to continue to do that. Starting with the topic of mental health.
I am in no way an expert on mental health, and I am not claiming to be, but I know enough from what I have dealt with in the past and from what I am still dealing with it. I think that mental health discussions are always avoided in some ways and are considered somewhat taboo. To understand mental health issues you need to understand what types of conditions fall under this category. Some mental health disorders are as followed:
LIST TAKEN FROM THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF MENTAL HEALTH
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD, ADD)
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
Bipolar Disorder (Manic-Depressive Illness)
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder)
These disorders can happen in any type of person at any time in their life. I started developing my mental health disorders in about 8th grade, but I’ll tell my story another time. The point is you need to be looking for the signs even in teens and children. I don’t want anybody to look at teenager who may be depressed or is having panic attacks and just think “They’re a teenager, it happens to all of them.” or “It’s just a phase.” No, it’s not. A panic attack could be an unconscious cry for help. So many people are uneducated on mental health and because of that a lot of people do not know that they are suffering with these disorders, which can make things worse.
At my high school I was required to take health class as freshman (9th year). In that half of a semester (Yep, not even a full term) I learned about the effects of drugs, alcohol, unprotected sex and how babies are born. I learned how to better manage myself through fitness and diet, and even learned about STIs and STDs. Can you guess what I didn’t learn? I never learned why when I went to a shopping mall I can’t breathe and want to get out as soon as possible. I never learned why I was so sad all the time. I think they showed a week of movies that related to eating disorders and one that showed how to deal with a depressed teenager. Did we spend a few weeks on it like we spent on the symptoms of cancer? Absolutely not.
Throughout high school we were required to take four years of a science. I took Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Anatomy. Within these courses and the required class of health in 9th year, I rarely heard the words Bipolar or Schizophrenia. In my last year of school I took Psychology and believe it or not I learned about mental health. It wasn’t a lot, but it was the most I had seen all four years. Was Psychology required? Nope! It was considered an elective!
I always think that if it was required, would we have had to go on lockdown my 9th year in the middle of the day because one of my friends was standing on top of the library building threatening to jump and end their life? What if they had learned what was happening to them? What if they were able to get help? Would that event still have occurred?
Which brings me to my final thought for this post. Only after did this person publicly cry out for help, did they offer him help. They weren’t “popular”, they were just a normal student that cheered at football games and occasionally got perfect attendance for that month, yet on the inside they were in trouble. Luckily they came out of the situation alive, but not unscathed. If your school is not teaching you about mental health, do your own research. If you know what to look for in a person’s behavior, then you just might be able to save a life.
Till next time.
– Haley Forté