Ask me about my mental health

Because it’s about time.


by Faith Andrews-O'Neal, Writer

How are you?
We’ve all heard someone ask us this. By default, we respond with some variation of “I’m good.” However, oftentimes that is not the case. Often, we’re truly struggling. I don’t just mean stress over homework or feeling sad after not getting the grade you wanted on a test, although those are prevalent, valid feelings (which were discussed in the context of our school
here). I’m talking about trying to write a paper but not being able to make your hands stop shaking. I’m talking about having to force your body out of bed for a weekend practice because the idea of facing the world is disheartening. I’m talking about feeling hopeless, and angry and alone. Although it may be hard to believe due to my peppy disposition, this is something I’ve struggled with.

These feelings were often exasperated by the fact that I didn’t want to burden others with my own mental health problems, because somewhere across the world, someone’s house was burning, and someone was being killed by a police officer and my own petty problems seemed irrelevant. Not to mention the major discomfort everyone feels when facing mental health issues. However, it’s time for that to change. It’s time for us all to hold conversations and work together to reduce the massive stigma surrounding mental health.

Considering the fact that an estimated 1 in 5 teens deal with a severe mental disorder, it seems ridiculous that this is a topic we are afraid to confront. It’s time we face that fear because it truly is life or death. Suicide is the second leading cause of death of people between the ages of 15-24. This statistic is terrifying, and it’s easy to want to repress the feelings it evokes. Thus, the resulting stigma. However, that stigma is misleading and harmful. If I had not taken time to grapple with my own mental health, I would never be at the place I am today. This is why, every Thursday during activity one, I go and talk to Ms. Marland, a counselor on 2nd floor M&A. I have been seeing her since freshman year, and if anyone asks me about where I go during this time, I am willing to tell them. Oftentimes, it’s met with a response of relatability; that someone else sees someone, or understands the need to be assured that you are not alone, just want to be better. There is nothing wrong with going to talk to someone if something feels wrong with you. You go to the doctor if you think you have a cold. What’s the difference? Mental health is essential to self-care in the same way that physical health is, and both should be treated with a sense of urgency when something feels very wrong.

We’ve all heard adults around us saying that if you see a friend in need, get help. I can recall hearing a version of that sentence multiple times throughout my time here at STA. But let’s be frank: while that is the ideal and by far best solution, it is not one many people choose. If you can not bring yourself to contact an adult, and even if you have done so, be willing to sit through long conversations, even ones that may make both of you uncomfortable. It is not an easy feat to discuss mental health.  Let them rant to you about something causing them stress, even if the problem seems small.

How are you? Genuinely, how are you? I want to know, and those who care about you do as well.