Imagine living in a world where our mental health was the priority. A place where individuals could have the ability to skip a day of assignments or take days off to focus on themselves without receiving punishment or putting their mental health into a worse state than it might already be. Even living in a place where you aren’t deemed crazy, lazy, or a child simply for feeling these types of feelings and taking time away to take care of yourself.
Several times growing up, I have heard the same statements: “You’re too young to be feeling that way,” “You have nothing to be stressed about,” and “You sound crazy.” These statements all come from family members and adults who did not understand what I was going through. Due to how folks saw me, I started to believe that I had nothing to be stressed about. I went years without acknowledging that there was something going on in my life. Every day felt like a nightmare. My thoughts were beginning to affect every aspect of my life. It felt pointless to even think about a future because no one wanted to listen or see my side of how I was feeling. I felt alone until I decided to take the small step to receive help at the age of thirteen. I initially was met with denial to treat me until I expressed feelings of taking my own life. Once I received help, I was diagnosed with major depression. It felt like a relief because I finally had an explanation as to why I felt the way I did. Yet, even with the diagnosis, my family still met me with the same type of denial that lives in many communities of color.
Now, I am in my second year of college trying to pursue a career where I can help others like me. It is important to acknowledge that these feelings are real and are only growing as years go on. According to the CDC, in 2019, the highest group that experienced any symptoms of depression were between 18 to 29 years old. Young adults need to have support and resources to address their mental health because these are ages where big transitions can happen. From the ages of 18 to 29, individuals are likely starting a future for themselves which can include education, work, or family. There needs to be more information sent to every community regarding what mental health consists of so that individuals are not met with rejection or the belief that they are crazy. It should not require someone to be on the edge to receive proper care or support. We need to normalize conversations about mental health and understand that it can affect how someone lives their life.
Sharon Albino is a student at CUNY-John Jay College, and a Spring 2021 Young Advocate with YI-New York.