March 2nd – World Teen Mental Wellness Day – a day that aims to raise greater awareness of #mentalhealth issues among teens.

#WorldHealthOrganisation reports that half of all mental health issues start by the time a child reaches the age of 14. Besides having information explosion on the subject, what is alarming is that we still have one in five young people struggling with issues such as loneliness, anxiety & depression?

Celebration of significant days is paramount, having facts and figures is great, putting the spotlight on the problems is great too. But the predicament is that we keep talking year after year, decade after decade, yet, mental health issues are on the rise.

It is an extremely trying situation; when would we realise that words alone haven’t been enough? Even during my teenage years, 5 decades ago, teens were ruled unreasonably and cast off as ignorant, belittled; their thoughts and opinions and views dismissed.

I believe this insolence towards youngsters has been passed on from generation to generation. And, I don’t remember seeing my elders happy either; it is quite likely they too suffered from sort of psychological #intergenerationalstress. My curiosity led me to do some research.

On BMC Psychiatry, it says past research has established the intergenerational patterning of mental health: children whose parents have mental health problems are more likely to present with similar problems themselves. And, the results showed that children whose parents had mental health problems were around twice as likely to present with mental health problems in adulthood.

How misleading is this on young minds! We are literally telling them that they will have a mental illness if their dad or grandma had it. So, there’s an answer to why mental health numbers are rising. Every parent will have 1, 2 or 3 children. So, what does that say?

“I am mentally ill, so you will be too – my child.”

I am disillusioned with the fact you can inherit mental illness. I did not, and so many others I know of my generation did not although and we had every reason to suffer from one; I was in dire straits. Nothing prevented me from pursuing my aspirations. So, what did a few us, if not all, do right?  

But first, what is it that is making mental health a stigma?

The difference is that we didn’t talk much about mental health like we do now. It seems, we talked a bit too much that we ourselves have converted the issue of mental health into a stigma. Isn’t it time that we walk the talk and recognise what gives rise to mental health issues by getting to the root of the problem?

But the dilemma we are facing is that we have not built any positive generational equity, concept of fairness between the youth and the elderly, to fall back on. I think, people who stigmatize teenagers for being irresponsible and rough should be disgraced for their own arrogance. Of course, I am totally aware of the fact that not all adults are dismissive of teens.

But the question remains, if there is no #generationalequity to fall back on what do we do?

We must stop #stickinglabelsonyoungminds. Labelling is associated with negative stigma which leads to adverse effects and creates an illness in head and delays recovery.

Having worked with pre-teens and teens and brought up kids and grandkids of my own, I have seen that teens these days are far more ambitious and conscientious than ever before; they have insights and courage and are not afraid to venture into new things. These young eyes see things without the filters; they know how to navigate themselves in this fast-paced changing era more than the teens ever did in the previous generations.  

Instead of telling them that one can inherit mental illness, we must educate and tell them that every decade of one’s life there is a different type of tension and stress. The second decade, the teen decade, is certainly more challenging because of the bodily changes taking place. Therefore, it makes it harder to them to accept to be just seen and not heard.

I think, the best way to deal with a hostile situation is simply to let the moment pass. Accepting that life cannot always be smooth sailing is a big step. Try a difficult challenge; if circumstances don’t permit, just dream about it. It will help you step out your comfort zone momentarily and give you the drive to pursue your dream, in real, when the time is right.

#Livingisanart; we have to learn how to live with what we have. The most precious thing we have is ourselves. We all have strengths which can only explored by tapping into them. Have self-belief and tame your mind to understand that we can’t always blame others. Putting yourself first is the only solution to end this #epidemicofmentalillness.

Remember, sometimes it’s ok to not be okay; it only helps us to evaluate and value what we have than what we don’t. Give yourselves a day or two and you will see that you will realise that your future is still yours. Having hope is great but resolve is better. You can transform your life no matter how many mentally ill people are around you. There is only of you; be kind to yourself – everything you desire is within you and nobody can take that away from you. Be #patient – it is a great virtue to possess which helps in most walks of life!

It is quite normal to go through a rough patch but if feeling sad, hopeless or worthless or experiencing physical symptoms but must be addressed if they persist for a long time. If you are one of those teens who is not in tune with the pressures and confusions then it does not mean that you are doomed to be a failure. I hung in there and never gave up; I used my creative skills, chased my dreams and accomplished them.

But, if you can’t manage, don’t label yourself or let others label you. Just pick up the phone and talk to a trusted friend. Before you know it, you will have realised the value of taking the matter in your hands and regaining control over of your life. You will come out of the challenging period of time stronger bolder and experienced. There is nothing that you can’t do – teens these days are in a much better place than they were in the previous generations.

Besides all the above, remember: #Communication is the key. This might help:

Let me know if you found any of this useful. Remember, if you help yourself in any way, you have helped the world. It starts at the source – that is Y-O-U.