Parents Play a Huge Role in Young People’s Mental Health

Joanna Lopez-De Jesus, Staff Writer

I detest where nowadays adults don’t think much about teens’ mental health. Adults, and parents in particular, think we couldn’t possibly deal with any sort of mental health issues. I mean, they surely remind us we have so much: enough food to eat, a roof over our heads, and clothes to use every day. But life is not all just about that. Teens are expected to just easily deal with all the pressures that come along with being a teenager in this day and age.

Adults need a new approach to their children’s realities. Adults should take their kids’ feelings more seriously and reach out to them more often.  Solutions can begin by simply creating some time to give their kids a chance to speak to them, be listened to by them, or maybe to spend some time away from home with them.

Parents only need to look at the increasing statistics about adolescents’ mental health issues to underscore the importance of reaching out to their kids. The 2001-2004 National Comorbidity Survey-Adolescent Supplement of 10,123 adolescents found that 11% of teens suffer from major depressive disorder by age 18.  Every year this rate grows higher, to the point where it becomes more and more serious. Indeed, the Tampa Bay Times reports that “a 2020 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study that found 1 in 3 high school students and half of the female students reported “persistent feelings of sadness and loneliness” — an increase of 40 percent from 2009 to 2019.” 

Depression can cause you to not eat, be able to focus on school, or do any activities you wish you could do. It can also lead up to suicide. Over 700,000 people die due to suicide every year. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds. This year, February and March have seen an almost 40 percent increase in suspected suicide attempt visits to the emergency room visits since the same time period in 2019. 

A 15-year-old sophomore student was asked what she thought the major cause of depression can be for today’s teens. Her response was, “Mainly parents and school. I think parents think that just because we have everything they couldn’t have at a young age, means we should be the happiest humans alive, but some of us aren’t.” 

As a teen myself, I know what it is to deal with mental health issues. I had my own struggles through all my middle school years at school and at home. I felt alone, destroyed, hopeless. My parents were always working, leaving me isolated at home. I didn’t have the privilege to own a phone or have friends over. It was like a prison.  Who could I talk to, share my thoughts with, live my days with? No one. All of that created a small world where only I was in it. I was hungry but did not want to eat.  When I forced myself to eat, I was full so fast, but I still felt hungry. It was crazy.  I developed a disorder called Trichotillomania, a pulling hair disorder whereby yanking out individual hairs causes an emotional release.   Even though my home life and relationship with my parents have vastly improved, I still suffer from this disorder today.

Parents may not be the only ones who cause the added stress placed upon today’s young people, but they can easily provide a positive resource in relieving it. Parents are uniquely positioned to support, motivate and provide what adolescents actually need to maintain their mental health. It can help so much while building a stronger relationship as a family.