True Star recently held another Teen Hall led by our teen staff members. The zoom event had a very generous turnout and quickly became a safe space for teens to share what’s been on their mentals lately. Things kicked off majorly surrounding mental health and the barriers that are common among teens when it comes to a whack mental state. With all this time we spend on our phones, we took the time and space to use them for some good by sharing some apps that were good for coping.
Of course, with that we had a heavy discussion about the countless effects of social media on teens and how it’s changed the way we view a lot of things and the way that it affects our self-image. One of my favorite prompts in the discussion was the timeless question of “fireworks or gunshots?” We came to the agreement that it was unhealthy that we’ve become used to not being able to tell these two very contrasting things apart. Part of this is due to the normalization of shooting and violence in the media that has influenced many teens.
The conversation covered the stigma around anxiety and depression among teens, especially Black teens, and mental health in general. The weak and narrow portrayal of mental illnesses in productions like the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why and the honest, but uncommon, portrayal of mental illnesses in the media like the movie Split, was also a topic of discussion. There was a really intense conversation on the way that the media romanticizes and glorifies mental health struggles. Making it seem desirable when in reality it’s very wild, undefined, and can range from person to person. There was more talk in how doing this was diluting the value and importance of addressing mental health struggles.
I could go on and on about all the important and insightful things that were covered in the Zoom but we’d be here forever. So I want to leave on the same very important note that the zoom call left on: Normalize acknowledging mental health and needing help.
It’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay to need help and to reach out. Your mental health matters and not because it compares to someone else’s. It matters because you deserve to be happy and healthy 24/7. And with that, I bid you with these resources:
Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 (Available 24 hours, text or call)
Here’s a link to other hotlines that address any needs ranging from domestic abuse to simply needing someone to talk to: http://www.pleaselive.org/hotlines/c
By Kelbe Nails, Junior, Whitney Young