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Mental Illness in Media

We see the signs of mental illness all around us everyday, but we aren't recognizing them for what they really are.

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The image of a bird by the ocean waves, the bird stands in the sand with one twiggy leg stretched towards the waves which are labelled ‘suicide,’ and the bird is labelled ‘me.’ A harmless meme, but this picture says so much more below the surface.  

This generation on social media posts memes and makes jokes about thoughts of suicide, depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety. We all scroll past them every day. Pictures of the bleach aisle with a caption prompting you what your favorite flavor is.  

These memes have become mainstream media, and these concerning jokes are the norm of humor for teenagers. But as we scroll past we need to stay aware of the consequences of being complacent.  

Approximately 1 in 5 youths ages 13-18 experience a severe mental disorder at some point in their life, and 42.5 million American adults are diagnosed with a mental illness in the U.S. 

These jokes may just be the creation of bored and stressed teenagers, but what if that’s not all there is to it? The fact of the matter is, teenage rates of mental illness are spiking, and the signs are all over timelines, and rooted in our every day interactions. 

“Students are making jokes at the expense of their mental well-being as a way to cope, because of the stigma around reaching out for help.”

Teenagers are suffering behind the sound of giggles at a story about their latest mental breakdown, and they’re dealing with their emotions behind closed doors. Don’t be afraid to speak up; it doesn’t make you weak. If you’re worried about your own mental health, talk to a parent or school counselor, and if you’re worried about a peer talk to them about it. Give them the nudge in the right direction they may need. Don’t downplay the signs, as it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

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Mental Illness in Media