Reducing the Stigma Around Teenage Depression
The stigma around depression in teenagers is the number one reason why many teens don’t get the mental health treatment they need. Many teens feel unheard, dismissed, and ashamed when talking about their depression with adults and peers. Being a teenager and having many friends and family members who suffer from depression, I feel very passionate about reducing the stigma that holds teens back from seeking out help. It is imperative we all work together to spread awareness about the often dangerous effects of stigmatizing and dismissing teenage depression.
Interview with Dr. Robyn Kures:
I conducted an interview with the outreach coordinator of Teen Line, a community-based organization that helps teenagers address their mental health disorders, who specializes in adolescents struggling with depression.
Dr. Robyn Kures explained to me how her job consists of educating people in her community about mental health and teen issues. She expressed her opinion that spreading awareness and educating people about common issues and research on teenage depression is crucial to lessening the stigma around it. She explained that the goal of outreach is to destigmatize mental health issues, provide coping skills and help resources, and initiate conversations about the prevalent issues teenagers face regarding mental health.
She believes that the greatest challenge facing teenagers in today’s world of mental health is that teenagers don’t always reach out when they need help; one reason why is because the teenage brain isn’t fully developed. She explained that the adolescent prefrontal cortex is not fully grown which makes teenagers very emotion-driven and illogical at times. Developmentally, teenagers are at a stage where they yearn for independence and often feel like they have failed when they don’t know how to handle their feelings on their own. Since teenagers are constantly being told to be more independent, they often feel like they have no one to turn to when they need help. She also explained how since adults often dismiss teenagers’ feelings as being “hormonal” and “angsty,” many teenagers fear being judged and shamed for feeling the way they do.
The stigma around mental health arises out of the uncomfort many people feel when talking about feelings, resulting in suppressed emotions that ultimately can be too much for a teenager to bear alone. Dr. Robyn Kures expressed that since people feel uncomfortable about hearing other people’s emotions, the best way to help lessen the stigma is to foster empathy and cultivate an understanding around teenage mental health.
After hearing Robyn Kures explain the roots of the stigma and the way to help end it, I felt that the best way to catalyze change at a local level was to create a dialogue among teenagers to express their emotions and feelings about depression. I can’t possibly end the stigma around depression with this project; what I can do is create a safe space to start conversations about personal experiences with depression and show fellow teenagers that they are not alone.
I have created an anonymous forum through Padlet that allows teenagers to express their stories anonymously in order to help diminish the stigma that confines teenage depression to “irrational teenage behavior.” I hope this forum will bring to light the many relevant issues teenagers face in their battles against depression, whether it’s having depression or knowing someone with depression, or anything else about the effects of depression.
Please share below any stories you have to help eradicate the stigma that confines so many from seeking help!! Click below to post into forum and to view the live forum.
Click here to post your anonymous stories to the live forum below!
My next step in this process to diminish the stigma around depression in teenagers is to gather more stories from different perspectives in order to foster empathy for teenage depression among teens and adults in my community. I am going to share this forum around my school and to as many sources as possible! I am also going to create posters and flyers that direct teens to resources that offer support systems and coping mechanisms to teenagers suffering from depression.
This is a call for action. Please share the links to the anonymous forum with your friends and family to gather as many perspectives and stories as possible! Since the goal of this project is to spread awareness and promote empathetic responses to teenage depression, the way YOU could help is by participating in the discussion and spreading the information you learned from my post. Let’s work together to diminish the stigma around depression in teenagers and encourage adolescents to reach out for help instead of feeling alone!
- TEEN LINE is a nonprofit, community-based organization helping troubled teenagers address their problems. It is their mission to provide personal teen-to-teen education and support before problems become a crisis, using a national hotline, current technologies and community outreach.
- JED is a nonprofit that exists to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults. They partner with high schools and colleges in order to strengthen teenage mental health and substance abuse and suicide prevention programs. They encouraging community awareness, understanding and action for young adult mental health.
- They focus on helping students with mental health disorders in college find resources and support systems in order to prevent the feeling of being alone and ostracized.
- Their primary objective is to provide mental health education to adolescents, teens and young adults, their parents, teachers and school administrators. Their goal is to reduce the stigma and destructive behaviors often associated with mental health issues.
- Their High School Program gives teens a platform to share their voices and raise awareness around mental health. Their goal is to empower students to educate one another, and their communities, and to create a culture of peer support within their schools.
- A comprehensive guide for someone suffering from depression or someone who knows someone suffering from depression. It offers more resources and tips to get the best help possible.
Anderson, Meg, and Kavitha Cardoza. “Mental Health In Schools: A Hidden Crisis Affecting Millions Of Students.” NPR, NPR, 31 Aug. 2016, www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/08/31/464727159/mental-health-in-schools-a-hidden-crisis-affecting-millions-of-students.
“Understanding Stigma.” Teen Mental Health, teenmentalhealth.org/live/understanding-stigma/.
McBride, Hugh C. “Stigma Keeps Many Teens from Getting Mental Health Treatment.” CRC Health Group, www.crchealth.com/troubled-teenagers/stigma-teens-mental-health-treatment/.
Lippman, Britt Lizabeth. “Department of Applied Psychology.” Stigma: A Different Kind of Bully – Applied Psychology OPUS – NYU Steinhardt, steinhardt.nyu.edu/appsych/opus/issues/2011/spring/stigma.
“Who We Are.” JED, www.jedfoundation.org/who-we-are/.
Tusiani, Bea. “Opinion | Teenage Depression: They Spoke Out.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 20 Dec. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2014/05/30/opinion/teenage-depression-they-spoke-out.html.