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Natalie Whitaker

March 20th, 2015


Extended Inquiry Project
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I dont really know how to get rid of this
comment so Im just going to leave it
here

University Writing 1103


Professor Malcolm Campbell

Mental Health in Teens: Typical or Trouble?

Teen mental illness. A topic that everyone knows exists, affects everyone in one way

or another, yet still few choose to acknowledge. I was first introduced to the idea of mental
health when in sixth grade a fellow classmate took his own life at just 12 years old. When I
was 14 years old, my best friend killed himself one early morning on our way to school. That
day changed my life forever, and ever since then suicide has seemed to show up in my life
constantly. Sophomore year, I lost another friend. Junior year, I lost a student to whom I
taught ballet. Early senior year I lost another, and later on that year, another. Just last
October, I lost another. And earlier this month, another. For me, suicide has continued to pop
up as I go on through life. And as I have gotten older, Ive realized that Im not the only one
who has been affected by such a travesty. A travesty thats main cause is the mental health of
teens and young adolescents.

The growth of mental health problems in young adolescents and teenagers over the

years has steadily risen. Without a known cause, many people are wondering if doctors are
just over diagnosing the problem, or if mental health issues truly are increasing. However,
statistics show that mental health problems are in fact increasing. According to Young Minds,

a mental health organization located in the United Kingdom, the number of young
adolescents that have been hospitalized for self-harm and depression related issues has
increased by 68% in the last ten years. And the number of teenagers between the ages of 15
and 16 diagnosed with depression has nearly doubled since the 1980s.

The question comes to what exactly can be done to help with this serious problem?

Parents think its just a phase, teachers are too focused on grades to notice, and other
teenagers seem to lack any interest in the issue until it affects them directly. Everywhere we
go in todays society we encounter an individual, or multiple, that are suffering from a
mental illness. Whether people choose to acknowledge the fact of not, mental illness has
become more prevalent as the years go on. For adolescents between the ages of 10 and 25,
suicide is the third leading cause of death and results in approximately 4,600 lives lost per
year. Within that same age group, 157,000 youth have received medical care for self-inflicted
injuries. A survey done nationwide found that in grades 9-12, in public and private schools,
that 16% of students reported seriously considering suicide, 13% reported organizing a plan,
and 8% reporting attempting suicide within the 12 months preceding the survey.

Parents seem to look at their children without recognizing things that may be going on

behind closed doors. With 20% of teens suffering from a mental illness unnoticed and
untreated, its time to start looking at the situation differently, and changing how it is dealt
with. The first step to improving the mental health of teens, is educating the adults in their
lives. Many parents and guardians dont understand the seriousness of a mental illness.
People tend to look at the signs of an illness and push it aside as typical teen behavior. But
where is the line between typical and troubled? How do we know who is truly suffering and

who is really just going through those typical teenage years? I truly believe that the first steps
begin with knowing the signs that a teen is struggling.

Knowing and acknowledging the signs of mental illness in teens is essential for

deciphering between the typical behavior, and behavior that can mean trouble. While the
warning signs can seem typical when first examined, it is important to take into consideration
the severity, intensity, and the duration of the worrisome behavior.
Decrease in enjoyment of time spent with family as well as friends
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Problems with memory, paying attention, or focusing

Thrill*

Noticeable changes in energy level, as well as eating and sleeping patterns

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Darrell Webb 4/21/15,

Complaints of physical symptoms (Stomach aches, headaches, nausea, backaches)


1:23

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I think you meant do not because
Im pretty sure this is a part of the
paranoia that comes with mental
illness
Darrell Webb
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PM
Add a hyphen
Darrell Webb
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Feelings of sadness or hopelessness


Increase in anxiety levels, nervousness
Frequent aggression or disobedience, including lashing out verbally
Neglecting of personal hygiene or appearance
Dangerous, perhaps illegal, thrill-seeking behavior

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Darrell Webb 4/21/15,

A significant drop in academic performance

Overly suspicious
1:23

Seeing or hearing things that other do 0not


Evidence of self-inflicted
0
injuries

These are only a few of the warning signs that a teenager may be struggling with

more than just the typical teenage issues. Once someone, perhaps a parent, guardian, or even
a teacher, has noticed these signs and has taken the time to observe and examine the
situation, the next step is to confront the teen about their concern.

Confronting a loved one about something as serious as mental illness can be

challenging and scary for everyone involved. It is important to consider all outcomes, and
even practice what you will be saying ahead of time. Things to remember while expressing a
concern about mental illness is to remain calm and be ready to listen. Teenagers often will
come off as defensive, or even defiant, while being confronted. It is important to remember
that this topic is just as scary, and maybe even as unfamiliar, to them as it is to you. Positive
thoughts and gestures can help to open up a friendly atmosphere, and can help encourage
honesty amongst the group. Talking about mental illness, especially in someone so young, is
a very serious topic and needs to be taken as seriously as talking about any other medical
illness.

The next steps in helping a teen who may be suffering from a mental illness, is to

make a plan. In most situations, and the most recommended next step amongst mental health
professionals, is to0 contact a doctor. Starting at the childs usual doctor will open the door for

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Darrell Webb 4/21/15,

many other options. Making an appointment is essential in the beginning stages of getting
1:32

PM
What are some other options
where the child can take their care
into their own hands if the parents
are not supportive? Are there any
other outlets in general for
teenagers suffering to go to?

help. From there, things can go in many different directions. Very often the doctor will
recommend a therapist or even a psychologist to the teen and their parents as part of the next
course of action. If a doctor, or any adult in the situation, is concerned that the teen may be at
risk of hurting themselves or others, often times an emergency admission into a mental
health center will become necessary, or even required. While this may sound scary and you
may wish to continue the process from the comfort of your home, it is important to listen to
doctors and their concerns, as the teens life may be at risk.

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These steps are unfamiliar, scary, and worrisome for everyone involved. Many parents

tend to stop treatment and push aside the severity of mental illness once their teen has opened

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Advice

up about their troubles. However, it is incredibly important for parents and guardians to listen

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to doctors. They know what is best in these types of situations, and neglecting to listen to

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their advice
0 puts your teenager at risk for increased mental problems, and often leads to more
intense signs of mental illness, such as suicide attempts. During the process of recovery, it is 0

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very helpful to remain positive and show as much support as possible for your teen.
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Recovery is a long and painful road. There are many ups and downs. There are good

PM
I like this. Friends parents, and
girlfriends parents dont
understand that recovery for
people suffering from mental
illness is not a steady incline like
recovering from a cold.
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Added Text

days and there are bad days. There are positives and there are negatives. Mental health is not
something that should be taken lightly. For the sake of young peoples lives, and the lives of
those around them who care, take the necessary steps to better yourself, your friends, and
your family mentally. If you notice in a loved one, or even in someone youre just casually
having lunch with, that there might be a problem, reach out a hand and help. If you dont feel
that it is your place to be stepping in, notify someone who can and will. Dont sit in silence,
as silence has proven to take lives. A healthy mind leads to a happy and healthy life. Not all
teens are going through the teenage phase as easily as other. Psychologists and psychiatrists
have proven that catching mental illness in the young adolescent or teenage years is critical
to insuring a more positive future. Not all teen minds are typical, learn the signs that
someone might be in trouble.

Darrell Webb 4/21/15,

1:40

PM
I like the topic as a whole. I agree
that their needs to be a lot more
awareness towards the mental
health of teenagers and the stigma
associated with it needs to me
removed. Try adding a few more
outlets as to where people can go
to get help or get information
about mental illness. Like what
organizations promote mental
health awareness and are out in the
community.

Works Cited
Collishaw, Stephan, Barbara Maughan, Robert Goodman, and Andrew Pickles. "Time Trends

in Adolescent Mental Health." Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 45.8

(2004): 1350-1362. Print.

"Home | Psychiatry.org." American Psychiatric Association. Web. 09 Mar. 2015.

"Mental Health Statistics." Mental Health Statistics. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2015.

Real Life Teens: Teen Depression. New York, N.Y: Films Media Group, 2010. Internet

resource.

"Suicide Prevention." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease

Control and Prevention, 09 Jan. 2014. Web. 01 Apr. 2015.

Teens: Typical or Troubled? Healthy Minds, 2009. Film.