In an attempt to change the incessant stigma that comes with mental illness, a teen recently made a post on Facebook highlighting the difference between her “normal” self and a side of her most people don’t see – what she looks like right after a panic attack. The post got an enormous amount of “shares” and “likes”, so many that articles have been written about it, such as this one from Think Progress.
What’s compelling about the Facebook post is the striking difference between the two images of Amber Smith. In the first picture, she looks glamorous, as though she is loving life. And in the other, she’s clearly afraid, lost, and confused. The post makes real the pain that teens can feel on the inside despite how they look on the outside.
And in the written post, Amber highlights this problem by writing:
God knows why I’m doing this, but people need some home truths.
Top picture: What I showcase to the world via social media. Dressed up, make up done, filters galore. The ‘normal’ side to me.
Bottom picture: Taken tonight shortly after suffering from a panic attack because of my anxiety. Also the ‘normal’ side to me that most people don’t see.
I’m so sick of the fact that it’s 2016 and there is still so much stigma around mental health. It disgusts me that so many people are so uneducated and judgmental over the topic.
They say that 1 in 3 people will suffer with a mental illness at some point in their life. 1 in 3! Do you know how many people that equates to worldwide?! And yet I’ve been battling with anxiety and depression for years and years and there’s still people that make comments like ‘you’ll get over it’, ‘you don’t need tablets, just be happier’, ‘you’re too young to suffer with that’
Amber is right. The number of people around the globe who suffer from mental illness is quite alarming – and you wouldn’t know it by the way they look. For teens, specifically, the statistics about teen mental health can make a person think twice about how they’re feeling on the inside:
- According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 20% of teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18 have or will have a serious mental illness.
- Roughly 11% of teens have a mood disorder (depression, bipolar disorder)
- Approximately 10% of teens have a behavior or conduct disorder (oppositional defiant disorder).
- About 8% of teens have an anxiety disorder (generalized anxiety disorder, post traumatic stress disorder)
- Only 36% to 44% of children and adolescents with depression receive treatment the treatment they need.
- According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens who are 15 to 24 years old. It is the sixth leading cause of death among children ages 5 to 14 years old.
If you’re a teen with a mental illness, it’s important to get the help you need. Don’t let stigma stand in your way. And if you’re a parent or caregiver concerned about an adolescent in your life, contact a mental health provider for answers on mental illness, diagnosis, and treatment.