Mental Health is a serious topic that needs some light shed on, but due to the taboo nature of mental illness, people don’t talk about it. Yet we joke about it all the time as a student body as well as a society.
In the United States alone, 1 out of 5 teenagers have a serious mental health disorder that affects their daily lives. So if one thinks of the Timber Creek population, around 3,400 students, so that number is divided by five, it is estimated that 800 students at Timber Creek High School have some form of a mental health problem. 30% of teenagers are diagnosed with depression, 10% suffer from anxiety-disorder, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Unfortunately, our counselors are too busy to handle every suffering student, and teachers don’t give us adequate support. Because of this, students are often not educated on how to handle a peer with a mental illness.
The things students say to one another, or around others about a serious topic such as depression or suicide could greatly affect someone in a negative way, triggering a panic attack, making them go into a depressive state, or worse.
There are specific infamous phrases that need to be brought to light and terminated in order to make Timber Creek a more warm and mental-health-friendly school.
“Oh my gosh I’m so depressed.”There is a big difference between being depressed and being sad. Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain, where there is not a sufficient amount of serotonin, a natural stimulant that makes one happy. This deficiency has long-lasting effects and can even result in terminating one’s own life. Meanwhile, sadness is situational, just a reaction to something upsetting happening to a person during a certain time.
“Mental health is a lot of things. Being with myself and my thoughts,” junior Georgie Bowen said. Bowen has troubles with anxiety, but never let them conflict her. However, her environment soon became toxic. “With other [peers] it became a competition…they brought up past friend groups and encouraged self harm and suicidal thoughts.”
This is a cut and clear example of something that should be talked about, so students can understand the true consequences of such behaviors.
Teacher Ryan Davis has made it a priority to establish a safe environment in his classroom for all students. Davis has had past struggles with mental health, and still endures some of those issues today. Despite this, he refuses to make mental health a touchy subject.
“I think that the stigma with mental illness is archaic and ridiculous. I think that in order for us to grow as a society, more people need to be candid about what they’re going through,” he stated. Hiding something as serious as a mental illness can make the whole situation worse. “If you were suffering with cancer you wouldn’t think about hiding it from anybody, if you’re suffering from depression or an anxiety disorder, something like that, then I don’t understand why you would want to hide that from people.”
If more teachers were as candid as Davis, Timber Creek would be received as a place of asylum.
“I think teachers should be a little more open… If people were more open to [talking about mental illness] then students wouldn’t hide such a big secret.”
Believe it or not, teachers have a huge affect on students. Mr. Davis had something to say to students as well, “Treat every body as though they are having the worst day of their life…Students in this school know someone who committed suicide, it doesn’t just go away. Having that scar on your mind stays with you for a long time, it doesn’t go away.”
As someone who has been diagnosed with depression and anxiety and admitted to in-patient (a mental facility to get treatment for an extended period of time), three times in under a year, outpatient for four months (therapy outside of a hospital), seen countless therapists and taken five medications just to function was extremely hard, but that wasn’t the hardest part. People joking about my illnesses both in and out of school, family members saying I’m not sick or that I just want attention, and losing the majority of my friendships – that was the hardest to endure. I’m not telling one to go out and find a friend who has some form of a mental illness and take them to a psych-ward, I’m just saying to be aware of the people around you and what they say. It is difficult living with something that could push one to self harm just because they want to feel something or because the words of their peers forced them to want to end their life.
Around Timber Creek, and unfortunately Keller ISD in its entirety, I’ve noticed that mental illnesses have not been taken seriously. When someone has a mental disorder or something along those lines, it should be handled with the highest caution. Wrong words could be offensive, wrong actions could be triggering and not being there for someone could result in something catastrophic.
There aren’t just students dealing with these issues, but teachers often suffer from the same conditions. Since school is a learning environment, teachers are often encouraged to conceal their troubles, though it could be extremely influential to a student suffering from similar issues. Students should be encouraged to approach their teachers, and Keller ISD educators should not have to refrain from being open and honest with students.
Opening up the conversation for discussion will allow this topic to evolve from touchy and uncomfortable, to open and accepting. Breaching the confines of the taboo would cause a large, positive change at Timber Creek. So let’s get out there and make this a topic for discussion, not something that we push aside. The conversation could help a great amount of the school population. Being cautious around everyone, including people you pass in the hallway that you’ve never talked to, this could make a big difference in how we affect people. Try to keep the conversation light and calm, you never know what words might trigger a fellow student. Keep the flow consistent, evolving on past conversation or even on the present ones, could allow Timber Creek to be a safe space. Allow teachers to be a support system. A teacher who you feel a strong connection with can be a great outlet. While it is great if one has a support system at home, one at school with your teachers, counselors, officers, or even upperclassman should become a valuable resource as well.
Not only is mental illness crucial to keep in check and work towards something better, but keeping mental wellness for every Falcon is extremely important.
Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Text Self-Harm Hotline: Text HELLO to 741741
Crisis Call Center: 800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863
HopeLine: Call or text 919-231-4525 or 1-877-235-4525
Childhelp USA National Child Abuse Hotline: 800-4-A-CHILD (422-4453)
Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network: 800-656-HOPE (4673)