The Importance of Taking Care of Your Mental Health

Miguel Tanner, Staff Writer

Today, mental health can be a very sensitive topic to many, but in reality, it is very important to talk about. A lot of people simply dismiss mental health and act as if it doesn’t matter, or isn’t important, but being mentally healthy is vital to having a good life.

A common misconception about mental health among teens is that being sad is the same as being depressed. Sophomore Beniji Montoya said, “Everyone can be sad, but it is temporary, whereas depression is way more serious and you have to live with it every day.” It is a normal part of development for teens to experience a wide range of emotions. It is typical, for instance, for teens to feel anxious about school or friendships, or to experience a period of depression following a traumatic event, such as the death of a close friend or family member.

A local therapist, Keatin Mckenzie, said, ‘’Many people who have not dealt with depression often confuse being sad or in a bad mood with being depressed. Real depression is commonly known and identified by someone’s entire life taking a turn for the worst, not small instances of being sad.”

Mental health disorders, however, are characterized by persistent symptoms that affect how a person feels, thinks, and acts. Mental health disorders also can interfere with regular activities and daily functioning, such as relationships, schoolwork, sleeping, and eating.

Depression is the most common mental health disorder, affecting nearly one in eight adolescents and young adults each year. Adolescents who experience symptoms of depression most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks in the year are having a major depressive episode. The number of adolescents who experienced major depressive episodes increased by nearly a third from 2005 to 2014. Sophomore Wyatt Esp has suffered from depression before. “I started to notice that I wasn’t happy while doing things that had previously made me happy.” Wyatt has since sought help, and opened up with people close to him. Today, he isn’t fully recovered, but progress is being made.

When left untreated, mental health disorders can lead to serious—even life-threatening—consequences. Depression, other mental health disorders, and substance use disorders are major risk factors for suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 15 to 24-year-olds. In 2013 and 2014, children ages 10 to 14 were more likely to die from suicide than in a motor vehicle accident. Any concerns that family members or healthcare providers have about an adolescent’s mental health should be promptly addressed.

Being depressed is not a little thing that people can diagnose themselves with, it is a serious problem that many people suffer from. Being unhappy is something that should be taken seriously. Seeking help is never a bad thing, and sometimes it is necessary. Depression is very serious, and a large issue among teens.

If you ever feel this way, or feel that something is off in your life, do not be afraid to seek help. The first step in getting rid of depression, or any mental health issue, is acknowledging that something is wrong and deciding to seek further help. Mental health disorders are very serious issues, but they are not permanent. Seeking help from loved ones or close friends, reaching out and opening up is never a bad thing, and in Ralston Valley, no one is ever alone.