“Sometimes I wonder if the kids I go to school with even know what real mental illness is, it seems like they love to tell everyone how depressed they are, how OCD they are, how they have this, that and everything else”.
This is a quote from a seventeen year old client in reference to her peers at a local high school. She is a hard-working, goal focused young woman who quietly suffers from extreme anxiety and obsessive thinking. It was only recently that she told anyone about what she struggles with daily and how much it affects her and interferes with everything she does. She has worked very hard to get help and use that help.
When I asked her what she meant by her statement about her peers, she explained that daily she hears her peers talk about their “issues”. She was frustrated about how freely they announced their problems, without seeking help, and as she put it, “brag” about them. As she continued on, she spoke about her “frustration” with her peers “making excuses” for not trying hard in school and as she put it and “glorifying mental illness”. She and her friends who struggle with serious mental health issues were not even sure whether or not their peers who announced their problems weren’t simply self-diagnosing.
It became more clear to me how difficult the terrain must be in this generation, to seek help and assistance. As well, it surprised me that even though mental health is talked about and the atmosphere is open to discuss mental health issues, some feel that their peers take advantage of this and use it to excuse them from taking responsibility for themselves and for their own health care.
There are may questions that arise in a situation such as this. Do some teens “glorify” mental health issues in order to get attention from their peers? Can this announcement of a self-diagnosis be a cry for help? It is important to consider all possibilities in a scenario such as this, in order to make sure all teens involved get the help they need. However it is important to consider that some teens have the experience that they feel they cannot reach out for help because they do not want to seem like or compare to their peers who announce their self-diagnosis.