Imagine walking up to your parents one day and blurting out the words, “I need to speak to a psychologist”. But imagine you said this maybe 20/30 years in the past. In most cases, this statement would have received its fair share of confusion.
Fortunately for us, it’s not so taboo anymore. The world is getting bigger. Our experiences are getting wider. Our lives are getting more stressful. And mental health conversations are getting so much louder!
As internal and external stressors continue to increase, especially among teenagers, so do mental health concerns. Coping with education, cyberbullying, body image, physical health are just a few stressors teens face on a day-to-day basis. Ultimately, these stressors slowly and steadily build up, get bottled up and finally show up as psychological concerns such as anxiety or depression.
Mental health is no longer an uncommon scenario. More and more teens & adults are voicing their troubles and seeking the help they need when they need it. In fact, according to the WHO, 10-20% of children and adolescents experience mental health conditions. Half of all mental health conditions start by the age of 14. But what about today’s times has changed the way teens view their mental wellbeing? Let’s find out.
Over the years, the awareness surrounding mental health has grown considerably. What was once ignored is now being recognized as a problem and treated accordingly. Spreading awareness about mental health, understanding that therapy is not a bad word and accepting mental health as just as important as physical health are a few factors that have helped enable this.
It’s important to note here that today’s teens are a lot more psychologically minded i.e they’re able to properly explain and understand patterns of thoughts, feelings and behaviours. They’ve decoded their inner workings and much of this can be credited to our next reason, access to social media and the internet.
Social media & the internet
It may seem insignificant but social media has played a tremendous role in helping teens open up about their mental health. It has helped normalize mental health problems and reduced stigma through interconnectedness and shared understanding. Teens no longer feel isolated because others are experiencing the same things they are.
While social media and the internet at large have been known to be the cause of anxiety, depression and several other issues – there’s no denying that it helps bring experiences today as well. Moreover, these networks have given teens access to not just people but organizations who work on mental health concerns, inform abundantly and help find resolutions for them too.
More open conversations
A big part of being open about your mental health is having open, real, honest conversations with those you trust and love. Phrases like “I’m too stressed” or “I’m really anxious today” are now a part of daily jargon. It’s an accepted state of mind and not an uncommon one either. The bigger concern here is finding the right person to talk to. For those who don’t feel as comfortable speaking to their parents or caretakers, there’s now access to therapists, organizations and professionals who they can speak to.
Overall, the increased awareness and access to information have helped lessen the stigma surrounding mental health. In a positive shift in mindset, we see that teens are not the only ones asking for help but parents are able to recognize when their kids require the help too. Unlike Millennials and Gen X’ers, who belonged to a generation where mental health problems were never discussed, today’s Gen Zs are part of a cohort who don’t feel that same stigma.
From Deepika Padukone and Virat Kohli to Simone Biles and Lady Gaga – these public figures have made mental health conversations a lot easier. They’ve spoken out about their struggles and normalized their battles, encouraging many teens to be braver and more open about their struggles. We can’t disagree that this has helped teens feel a lot more heard as they associate with their favourite celebrities, and by extension with their struggles too.
The final take
Since the pandemic, the world has been facing a collective trauma together. Everyone has felt its impact in many ways, from physical to mental. More and more people have come to terms with their mental health struggles and have felt comforted in the empathy that followed. Rather than whispering about it behind closed doors, today mental health is discussed in the same way that one would talk about daily chores like making a meal or brushing your teeth.
That said, we’re still a long, long way down the road from making mental health a part & parcel of everyone’s daily life. Yes, everyone! While it may sound like the only people who require mental health support are those undergoing some form of trauma or difficulty only, it’s far from the best-case scenario. Mental health is for everyone and could literally be about absolutely nothing in particular.
Start connecting with teens on the Uable app today!