Youth mental health: The impacts of pressures and stigma

MHA Admin

Tue, 08/22/2023 – 08:31

by Alexander Allin

Being a student in the 21st century requires modern skills and coping mechanisms. We have constant access to quick communication and information, which schools don’t prepare them for, making it hard to navigate the boundaries between the digital and physical worlds.

My name is Alexander Allin, a high school student in Maryland working to combat the mental health stigmas and lack of resources my peers experience. I’ve involved myself with mental health work since my freshman year, where I took a leadership role in my school’s mental health club, Our Minds Matter. Since then, I’ve joined several advocacy organizations, testified to the Maryland General Assembly, and graduated from Mental Health America’s Our Future In Mind program.

I became involved in mental health advocacy after seeing my friends and classmates have poor mental health and consider suicide. I’ve worked toward additional funding for mental health professionals, brought awareness to local mental health resources across my district, and participated in conversations surrounding school mental health to highlight the student experience.

How students experience mental health

As a student, academic pressures, social media, and community stigmas have impacted my and my peers’ poor mental health at school. When paired with a lack of resources, these pressures increase our risk of a mental health crisis.

As a rising junior in high school, academic pressures are visible when discussing college. Alongside my peers, I feel pressured to take many advanced-level classes and prepare for standardized tests that define my future career and education. Even with most colleges going test-optional, these scores are still important, greatly benefiting students’ chances at higher education.

Additionally, many students now can receive notifications about graded quizzes and assignments, sometimes even immediately after they take them. Personally, this can lead to feelings of distress as I instantly see the impact a failing grade has on my GPA, a number that can define my and my peers’ futures.

Social media also impacts students’ mental health, increasing anxiety and stress. Apps like Instagram, popular among teens, highlight the “perfect” aspects of someone’s life, creating unrealistic expectations. It also creates a cycle all students know too well of scrolling through social media to cope with stress after school, which can increase a negative self-image as algorithms serve emotionally heavy content to keep youth engaged. Posts of peers getting together without them, pro-eating disorder or self-harm content, and videos of tragic incidents (which invoke the same traumatic response when seen digitally) all impact a youth’s well-being.

Unfortunately, while students experience all these feelings, community stigmas can cause young people to feel unsafe talking about their emotions at home and with friends. However, when they try accessing already limited mental health resources at school, the lack of school-based professionals can cause them to feel even more isolated, increasing mental health problems. Eventually, students may develop negative coping habits like self-harm or substance abuse to deal with these emotions.

Combatting school stigmas

So, what can we do? Alongside additional funding for mental health professionals and resources, communities must combat stigmas by hosting events and creating open spaces for mental health conversations. For example, my school district hosts an annual “Mental Health Awareness Fair,” which discusses general mental health topics like depression and anxiety, connecting them to school resources.

Mental Health America’s toolkit, Selfies, Social, and Screens: Navigating Virtual Spaces for Youth, provides information on cyberbullying, cleaning up social feeds, and navigating a digital world. It’s a good point for youth to recognize the mental health risks of social media and healthily enjoy the digital world.

In addition, books like Mental Health America’s “Where to Start” can self-empower youth to describe their feelings and understand their experience – even if mental health is a taboo topic in their community.

Mental health is something invisible held by everyone. However, with stigmas causing people to feel like they need to bottle up their emotions until a crisis, it’s imperative to talk more about mental health in our communities – especially with youth – to have a healthy society.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Capital City Emergency “Level II” Trauma & Wellness Center will house a “state of the art” Outreach Community Resource Center, that will provide case management, mental health community advocacy, and oversight from the M.I. Mother’s Keeper mental health advocates. 
 
The Capital City Emergency “Level II” Trauma & Wellness Center will offer patrons access to immediate coverage by general surgeons as well as coverage by the specialties of orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, radiology and critical care.
 
Our goal is to help people in the best way possible in an effort to preserve and to save more lives in the Nation’s Capital and beyond.

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Emergency

Code Red
Gunshot Victim
Life Threatening Wounds
Physical Assault Victim
Severely Injured Auto Accident Victim
Burn Victim
Epilepsy/Seizures
Cardiovascular
Choking & Breathing Obstructions
and more…

trauma

Child Sex Assault Victim
Domestic Violence Victim
Drug Overdose
Rape/Sex Crime Victim
Suicide Watch
Trafficking Victim
Nervous Breakdown
and more…

Mental Health

At Capital City Emergency Trauma & Wellness Center patrons with mental health emergencies that include life threatening situations in which an individual is imminently threatening harm to self or others, severely disoriented or out of touch with reality, has a severe inability to function or is otherwise distraught and out of control, will have access to quality and psychiatric emergency services and referrals.

Physical Health

Whether your life threatening medical emergency involves excessive or uncontrollable bleeding, head injury. difficulty with breathing, severe pain, heart attack, vision impairments, stroke, physically collapsing, or seizure related, rest assured that our professionals will properly assess and evaluate the level of response that will be most needed to help provide stabilized care solutions and minimize complications as well as reduce early mortality.

Holistic Healthcare

We offer healthcare solutions that will support the whole person which includes their physical, psychological, emotional, social, & spiritual wellbeing. Research supports that because your mental state can affect your overall health we support and offer the inclusion of complimentary and alternative medicine(CAM) practitioners and naturopathic doctor recommendations and referrals as a part of our Outreach Community Resource Center’s care regimen and support.

Rehabilitative

Emergency care can typically result in traumatic injuries for which rehabilitation becomes an essential component of care in trying to achieve the best long-term outcomes for the patient. In addition to speeding up recovery times and helping to prevent further complications, rehabilitative care also helps to support a patient’s self-managed recovery once discharged from our facility. Our Outreach Community Resource Center works closely with our trauma center’s discharge department to assure that patrons requiring these services are linked with qualified professionals who will be accountable to the standard of care required to help the patron be successful in their recovery.

Social Services

Our “state of the art” Outreach Community Resource Center intends to promote “expansive” beneficial community enriching services, programs, case management, & linkage to “approved” partner resources and supports in all of the following intended areas and more:

Social Services

  • Clothing
  • Food Pantry
  • Housing/Shelter
  • I.D. Credentials
  • Senior Wellness Check
  • Toiletries
  • Transportation
  • Etc.

Extended Family Services

  • Child Care
  • Credit Counseling
  • Family Court Services
  • Legal Aide

Career Training

  • Apprenticeship programs
  • Computer/Graphics Training
  • Culinary Program  
  • GED Courses
  • Hospitality Training
  • Job Etiquette & Grooming
  • Resume’ Prep
  • Sales Training
  • Software/Technology workshops
  • Small Business Training

Return Citizen
Program Partner
(Bridging the Gap)

  • Case Management
  • Temporary Boarding/Housing
  • Transitional Program Registration

Prevention/Intervention Outreach,
Workshops, & Programs

  • After-school Behavioral Health Program
  • Civic Engagement / Volunteer Sign-up
  • Fatherhood Rites of Passage
  • Gun Violence Town Hall Forum
  • Life Coaching & Coping Strategies
  • Marriage Counseling Workshops
  • Medicare Informational Workshops
  • Mentorship Training
  • Parental Classes
  • Support Groups
  • Town Hall Discussions
  • Violence De-Escalation Training
  • Voter Registration

Nutritional Outreach

  • Cooking Demonstrations
  • Dietary Programs
  • Exercise Classes
  • Recipe Sharing Workshops
  • Meal Prep

Community Outreach

The Healthy DC & Me Leadership Coalition is partnering with the M.I. Mother’s Keeper Mental Health advocacy organization to provide outreach services on the community level as an aid in reducing the existent health inequities that many District citizens are facing as a direct result of the presence of debilitating social determinants and the lack of culturally appropriate care choices and realities for community members residing in marginalized and lower-income communities.

It is the vision and intentions of the M.I. Mother’s Keeper Mental Health Advocates organization to help improve the quality of living for citizens living in our Nation’s Capital and beyond by overseeing the delicate linkage to services and by maintaining higher standards of care accountability for deserving citizens of the Nation’s Capital.

For more information or to enroll as one of our service providers, please email us at:
info@healthydcandme.org