Mind your mind

Rebel Review staff takes closer look at stigma surrounding mental health


Thousands of teenagers suffer from mental illness in varying degrees. This can be depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, or a multitude of other issues, but the label “mental illness” sometimes seems too severe or embarrassing when describing our own state of mind; and, openly expressing these concerns to others (or even admitting them to yourself) can be quite a challenging feat.

Many people struggle to open up about their own mental health because they believe that no one else will be willing or able to understand. This just-me mentality, the belief that you as an individual are alone in your experience, is a toxic form of short-sightedness that only fosters the bottling up and denial of emotional and mental experiences.

The reality is that while each individual’s life is comprised of unique experiences, struggling with mental health is as common to the human experience as any form of physical pain or ailment. No person dealing with mental illness is alone, and no person in this position should feel as if he or she cannot speak openly about these struggles.

Talking about mental health is never easy. It feels embarrassing, it’s nerve-wracking, and it’s inescapably personal. Admitting to struggling with mental health issues can seem like admitting to weakness, like admitting that you’re not trying hard enough to be happy or carefree, but understanding that mental health struggles are not a matter of willpower is extremely important. If a person broke her leg, she could not simply decide to heal it or to not feel any pain, so why is this expected of people who suffer from depression or anxiety?

Another reason that openly speaking about mental health is such a struggle for so many is that in doing so, a person is essentially disarming herself and handing the ammunition to someone else. By revealing the internal conflicts that are not visible to others, people battling with mental issues open themselves up to being called annoying or attention-seeking. People going through these experiences often face enough inner turmoil and self ridicule that the prospect of such contempt from others intimidates them into silence.

If, as you were reading this, you related in anyway to the content or feelings expressed, you are not alone. If you struggle with your own mental health, there is no shame in seeking help or speaking about this openly. Several accessible resources are listed on page 4 of this edition, and there are many who truly are willing to lend an ear or counsel here in the Roncalli community.