There’s good reason why you might resist mental health treatment. It can come with a stigma. If any of your friends were to find out about the fact that you are in therapy or taking medication, you might fear being rejected or judged by them. Perhaps you might fear losing a friend or being made fun of because of the illness you have.
Sometimes, the social scene among middle and high school students can be fierce. And many teens struggle with fitting in with certain cliques at school. Having an illness would only make matters worse. Someone might judge you as less intelligent or less capable as everyone else. Experiencing those kinds of reactions from friends can certainly make any teen want to resist mental health treatment.
However, if you’re genuinely experiencing symptoms of mental illness, such as anxiety, depression, addiction, then treatment may be able to help. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), treatment for mental illnesses are highly effective. The combination of therapy, medication, and professional support has helped 70 to 90 percent of individuals with mental illness lead more satisfying, stable lives. In other words, mental health treatment can get you back to the person you used to be. It can help alleviate symptoms. Sooner or later, you might feel ready again to learn new things, make new friends, and pursue a passion.
If you’re worried about losing friendships or being judged, consider whether your friends are worth having around if they are going to judge you for having an illness. Instead, friendships can be a source of support. At times, this may be difficult to trust as a teen. Adolescence is a time when great importance is placed upon appearance and social groups. Yet, despite the value placed upon social connections, many teens can appreciate you for who you are. Many teens can accept you, with or without an illness. In fact, most teens will want to be there for you to provide their support and encouragement.
If your symptoms of mental illness have spun out of control and if your functioning at home, school, or work has been impaired, then it’s time to get help. Also, if you’ve experienced a recent change in your emotions, behavior, sleeping or eating habits, or a combination of these, and especially if that change is sudden, then you should consider following the guidance of your parents and/or a mental health professional.
Remember that treatment is the most effective if you’re willing to participate in it. You must have a willingness and a readiness to change old patterns, old behaviors, and old choices that may have led up to the illness. Certainly, there are some forms of mental illness in which you consciously didn’t play a role in its development. However, treatment may require changing certain lifestyle habits in order to get better.
If you’re willing to give mental health treatment a chance, it’s likely to work for you. If you’re experiencing symptoms of mental illness, talk to an adult you trust right away. Or contact a mental health provider at your school or within the community.