Shattering the mental health taboo

Photo courtesy of the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program

Photo courtesy of the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program

Stephanie Hu, Editor-in-Chief

In light of National Suicide Prevention Week, various schools will partner in a vast support network to heighten awareness of suicide among a student body. At Fremd, cards will be distributed to classrooms through the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program, which aspires to educate communities and save lives. The nationwide efforts will take place from Sept. 10-16.

Today’s teenagers confront countless pressures in the midst of college application season, skyrocketing student debt, and disheartening employment prospects after graduation. Mental health problems ranging from clinical depression to anxiety disorders often remain beneath the surface, shadowed by perpetuated social stigma. According to the American Psychological Association in 2015, millennials are reporting higher levels of stress than any other generation. The core of the problem may stand within the hypercompetitive energy that weaves into our modern reality. Students relentlessly strive for success, fighting for spots on teams, prestigious schools, and future companies to a breaking point where failures are crushing and the stakes sacrifice their very health and happiness.

To spark societal change, the legitimacy of mental health problems must be recognized on the same level as physical ones. Hypothetically, if a student fractures a bone, the symptoms are clearly seen and acknowledged as the student is granted time to recover. In sharp contrast, when the same student cannot muster the energy to rise out of bed due to debilitating depression and anxiety, they are often dismissed. In order to support individuals facing destructive emotional hardships that are not clearly visible, schools must focus on mental health initiatives at all locations, from highlighting the upcoming National Suicide Prevention Week, to establishing support groups, to contacting parents, teachers, and peers so they know how to look out for signs and how to react. With these actions, schools are able to promote an atmosphere in which all individuals feeling alone in their struggles can gather the courage to seek help around a community that genuinely values them.

Above all, students enduring mental health problems should not be viewed as unhinged, marred, or broken. There may not be a simple cure-all, but as misconceptions are eliminated regardless of an individual’s diagnosis in a universal circle of support, change can shift society’s reality years in the future and for generations to come.