Provocation – let’s get us thinking
On the tabs above you’ll find the explanations for the answers of the True or False questionnaire.
Prompt: Suicide is the second leading cause of death among high school students (aged 14-18).
Reasoning: In research conducted by the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), the conclusion was drawn that suicide is in fact the second leading cause of death among individuals aged 14-18. The leading cause of death was intentional injuries. In 2018, over 2,000 high-school-aged individuals took their own lives, accounting for approximately one of every three injury-related deaths among this age group.
Prompt: The state with the highest rate of substance use disorder among youth (aged 12-17) is Alaska.
Reasoning: According to the statistics shown by Mental Health America (MHA), an average of 4.13% of youth in America reported having a substance use disorder. This statistic was composed of 1.87% who had an alcohol use disorder, and 3.07% with illicit drug use disorder. Alaska, with 6.53% of youth reporting a substance use disorder, has the highest rate across the nation. Georgia on the other hand has 3.18% of youth who have reported a substance use disorder, making it have the lowest rates.
Prompt: In the U.S., 48.9% of youth (aged 12-17) with severe depressive episodes received some consistent treatment (7-25+ visits in a year).
Reasoning: The truth is that an estimated 28.2% of youth with severe depression receive consistent treatment. MHA has reported that the state prevalence of youth with consistent treatment for depression ranges from 13.5% in South Carolina, all the way up to 53.9% in Maryland.
Prompt: In the U.S., teenage men are more likely to be diagnosed with depression than teenage women.
Reasoning: Though men are more likely to commit suicide, Pew Research Center has shown statistics that 66% of teenage girls experience depression, contrary to 44% for teenage boys.
Prompt: The average high school student today has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950s.
Reasoning: It is not correct that the average student experiences the same anxiety levels as the average psychiatric patient of the early 1950s, however, the American Psychological Association (APA) has reported that the typical student does experience higher anxiety levels than the average ld psychiatric patient of the early 1950s.
On the tabs above you’ll find the explanations for the answers of the Higher or Lower questionnaire.
Prompt: In the U.S., 25% of youth (aged 12-17) report suffering from at least one major depressive episode in the last year.
Reasoning: MHA reported that 13.01% of youth suffered from at least one depressive episode in the past year. The highest rates were found to be in Oregon, where 16.34% reported at least one depressive episode, and the lowest rates were found in the District of Columbia with only 10.49% reporting at least one depressive episode in the last year.
Prompt: 42% of youth (aged 12-17) with major depression did not receive any mental health treatment.
Reasoning: MHA reported that the true number of youth with major depressive episodes yet have received no treatment is roughly 59%. The state prevalence of untreated youth with depression ranges from 39.5% in Rhode Island to 74.3% in North Carolina
Prompt: In the U.S., in 2018, the difference between suicide rates in adult men was 22.8 per 100,000. Were the suicide rates for women higher or lower?
Reasoning: According to Statista, in the U.S. in 2018, the suicide rates for men were at 22.8 per 100,000, whereas for women, they were at 6.2 per 100,000. These rates for both men and women have been increasing since around the year 2000.
Prompt: The prevalence of psychiatric disorders among high school students using GHQ-28 (type of study) is 31.9%.
Reasoning: The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) reported that 48% of students had some type of psychiatric disorder. This was seen more in women, where 51% of them had some psychiatric disorder than men, where only 41% of them had some psychiatric disorder. Reportedly, the women also had more severe psychiatric disorders than the men.
Prompt: 61% of youth in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosed mental illness.
Reasoning: The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reported that a staggering 70.4% of youth in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosed mental illness.
Those statistics are jarring, and honestly downright concerning. For young adults, who still have a whole life ahead of them, to be presented with such severe mental illnesses at such high rates so soon in life, there has to be a fundamental problem in the way that our society had progressed. As a society we evolve quickly, however, our cultural beliefs, those that stem back centuries upon centuries, those not easily changed and adapted to our times. Throughout history there have been three general theories, or factors, to explain mental illness.
The first one was the idea of the supernatural causing mental illness. The first signs of this type of explanation date back as far back as 6500BC, where prehistoric skulls and cave art identified surgical drilling of holes in one’s skull to treat head injury and epilepsy. They believed that this allowed evil spirits trapped inside of the skull to be released. This path of religion was followed well into the 16th century. Especially between the 11th and 15th centuries, supernatural explanations of mental disorders were fueled by natural disasters and famine which people believed were brought on by the devil. As the 16th century came along, treatments in hospitals and asylums started to be adopted. By the 18th century, there were protests revolving around the treatment of those mentally ill, asking for the conditions to improve. A few examples of what came of that, were they unshackled patients, and moved them to well-lit and well-aired rooms, as well as encouraged them to move around and take part in activities.
Though it is true that someone being possessed by an evil spirit makes for much more ‘interesting’ gossip, it seems reasonable that this wasn’t really a highly conversed subject at the time. Simply put, we have yet to arrive at the point where this is a normalized conversation. There is still heavy stigmatization surrounding mental illness, it becomes an increasingly difficult conversation to have. This stigma also is not consistent. It varies drastically, from culture to culture but even from person to person. Based on our own life experiences, on our religious standings, and even on our genetics, we all have different stigmas about mental illnesses and how to approach them. Simply because of the difficulty of approaching the subject, we have resorted to not speaking of it. It’s become a taboo subject simply because it could not keep up with our evolution of science.
So now that we have established that, how does it relate to high school students and their wellbeing? The Association for Children’s Mental Health reported that 1 in 5 youth has a diagnosable emotional, behavioral, or mental health disorder. Philip Kendall, director of the Child and Adolescent Anxiety Disorder Clinic at Temple University, noted that there has been nearly a 41% increase in anxiety among students since 1985. Long story short, this impacts us all. In one way or another, we are tied to this. Silencing the discussion means that (as reported by Mental Health First Aid) an estimated 70% of teenagers who need treatment don’t receive it. If the conversation is not one that is open and can flow easily, students will not feel that they can request the help they may desperately need.
Looking Forward – let’s do something about it
There are a number of things that we can do to help others struggling with mental health, and many ways to help spread awareness on the subject. Here below are a few posters that depict how one might be able to help and a few links for additional information or details. The sources gathered below are in an attempt to cover a wide array of bases. These include resources to build good mental health habits, but also resources that may provide some insight into how to help someone going through a mental health struggle. There are sources to help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health, as well as sources at the bottom for you to dig deeper into what the statistics are and what they show. Please take some time to go through them and see what they all have to say, they are all intended to be helpful in some way or another (either to help yourself or to help others around you).
The key thing to remember from these is that you cannot force someone to see a professional, however, you should not behave as a professional yourself unless you are. You should not go around diagnosing people because you read one thing somewhere. If you see someone that you believe is battling with mental health, speak to them. Have a conversation with them. If you are concerned after having the conversation, speak to a trusted adult, speak to a trusted professional, but most of all advise that individual to see a professional.
MLA Citations for links, images, and posters can be found HERE.
Please leave feedback and questions below!
> What is something that you had not realized prior to reading my project?
> Would you like to see more being done at your school regarding the subject of mental health? What are they already doing now to address mental health?
> Do you see mental health among high school students in a different light now?