teen mental health stigma

Reducing The Stigma Surrounding Teens Experiencing Stress, Anxiety, Depression, And/Or Irritability

Stress, anxiety, depression, and/or irritability can affect anyone, no matter their age, social status, or occupation. If left unaddressed teens experiencing stress, anxiety, depression, and/or irritability could end up with a Mental Health Diagnosis.

1 in 5 teens will experience a mental health diagnosis and half do not receive the treatment they need. Teens and/or their parents may not seek help due to the negative stigma surrounding mental health.

Additionally, when left untreated, stress, anxiety, depression, and/or irritability can lead to substance misuse or an actual diagnosis of a Substance Use Disorder. It’s important to remember that this is not always the case.

To reduce the stigma associated with stress, anxiety, depression, and/or irritability, prevent substance misuse and provide support to teens in the community, it is important to understand why this occurs.

What Is Mental Health Stigma?

Mental health stigma is defined as societal disapproval, or when society places shame on people who experience emotional distress, such as anxiety, depression, and/or irritability

Because of this negative view, stigma can lead to discrimination, both seen and unseen. There are two types of stigma:

  • Social stigma, is a belief held by a large faction of society which sees individuals as less than or part of an inferior group. Social stigma can include stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination.
  • Self-stigma, occurs as an individual internalizes societal stigma as being truthful. Self-stigma may include a negative view of the self, low self-esteem and/or failing to pursue work and other opportunities.

Stigma Negatively Impacts Teens

Not only do many teens struggle with managing negative emotions, they also have to manage the prejudice and stereotypes that many people may have about the symptoms they are experiencing.

Stigma can include the belief that teens struggling with stress, anxiety, depression, and/or irritability are violent, irresponsible, child-like and need to be cared for. This can lead to the teen internalizing these ideas and result in low self-esteem and confidence.

Teens Experiencing Stress, Anxiety, Depression, And/Or Irritability May End Up Misusing Substances

Stress, anxiety, depression and/or irritability can lead to substance misuse in teens. Addressing both issues is crucial for a teen to become healthy and continue to thrive.

Other Common Symptoms experienced by teens can vary, and may include:

  • Excessive worry or fear
  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Extreme mood changes
  • Difficulties relating to other people
  • Isolation
  • Trouble concentrating, learning, and completing daily tasks

Stress, anxiety, depression and /or irritability are treatable and are a part of a teen’s overall wellbeing. As a community, parent of teens, or simply a friend, it is important we address these experiences and substance misuse in teens and the stigma which often surrounds both.

Share Real Life Experiences With Teens

We are most often changed by the people we relate to. If you yourself have experienced stress, anxiety, depression and/or irritability, share your experiences with your teen. Be careful not to glorify the experience. This, along with becoming engaged with various support groups or talking to a professional will help your teen see that they are not alone.

Listen To & Support Teens How They Are Feeling

Listening to and supporting your teen is critical in getting them help and reducing the negative stigma surrounding stress, anxiety, depression and/or irritability.  Let your teen know that what they are feeling may be a signal that they need to continue to be open about what they are experiencing and if symptoms continue, you will help them find a professional that can help.

Avoid phrases like “You’re fine,” “You’ll get over it,” or “Cheer up.” When a teen is feeling overwhelmed by emotions avoid these statements because they can be perceived as judgmental and will make your teen feel as if they are not being taken seriously.

Find Professional Counseling Resources At PreventEd

Our GuidEd program is also available for youths up to the age of 19 who have experienced some difficulty with substances. The program offers comprehensive:

  • Workshops
  • Evaluations
  • Counseling

Contact a professional counselor at PreventEd today for more information.

Learn More About GuidEd

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