I Am a Teenager
The TheraMom team put out a simple invite: “If you are a teenager and want to share a few of your thoughts on mental health, how it affects teenagers or what adults should know, please reach out to me.” The messages received from teenagers across the country were more powerful than we could have ever imagined. This video is a testimony to the thoughtful written words and the brave teenagers who volunteered to read them.
Their feelings. Their thoughts. Their words. Their voice.
September is National Suicide Prevention Month. It’s an important month because the message needs to be loud and clear, especially given the current state of our world. It is a time to bring awareness and offer support. It is a time to share resources, stories and experiences surrounding mental health that shed light on this stigmatized topic. It is a time to spread the message, “you are not alone,” in your mental health journey.
Some of the teenagers in this video have experienced the lasting impact suicide can have on a young life, a family, and a community. Nearly three years ago, James Luti lost hope that his anxiety and academics would ever get better. At the age of sixteen, he took his own life. He was a brilliant hockey player and a bright light in nearly every room he walked into. The JL11Fund was created in his honor to bridge the gap in understanding between those who struggle with mental health and their communities. The foundation channels funding to mental health initiatives, including a scholarship program for teenagers seeking higher education.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for teenagers, behind accidents. Many teens who attempt or die by suicide have a mental illness, often undiagnosed. Due to the nature of mental health, those with a mental illness often live with their symptoms for long periods of time before seeking treatment, if they ever do so at all. They might struggle with the stress of being a teenager, or struggle with feelings of failure, social pressure, isolation, sadness, or disappointment. We know that being a victim of bullying is risk factor for self-harm, as is struggles within the family unit or substance abuse. Emotional pain and mental health battles can be overwhelming at any age but for teenagers, it can be especially devastating.
We can’t emphasize enough just how important this video is. It is in their words: for teenagers and by teenagers. Please help us share this powerful message.
We encourage all people to think deeply, to have the teenagers in their life watch, and share it with their community. We encourage parents to have open conversations with their kids about mental health, even if their teenagers tell them they are “okay.” We encourage teachers to put the utmost importance on mental health in their classrooms, coaches to remind their players that strong might not look like the stigmas or stereotypes, and friends to check-in on their peers (even the ones that may appear happy).
For the rest of this month and beyond, let’s shed light on mental health and remind our precious but strong teenagers that they should never be afraid to ask for help. It’s okay to not be okay.
Please help us bring awareness to mental health and have those tough conversations that may save a life.
Mental Health Matters.