Starting this month, we are launching a teen corner where young people from around the world tell us as parents, educators, health professionals, what we need to be aware of. Elijah Jacob, a 17-year-old from Kuwait, kicks off "Ïn their Own Words" by asking us to address teen mental health. If you know a teen who would be willing to share their thoughts by writing a blog or being interviewed for a future, please contact us.
Please Listen By Elijah Jacob
One recurring issue for us teenagers is that we neglect our mental health. I have heard of many instances from my friends where people tell them, ‘You’re a teenager. Teens have to go through these things,’ or ‘Don’t worry about it; it’s just a phase,’ or even from our parents, ‘What could possibly be troubling you after all we do for you?’ As a teen, hearing these things makes us feel estranged and even patronized.
What factors contribute to the decline of mental health for teens, and how can this decline lead to teen suicide? Teenagers who constantly worry about their personal successes simply inflict pressure on themselves. If they do not meet their (or their parents) academic expectations, it can send them into a dark, isolated corner of depression.
Believe it or not, bad grades is an inevitable part of educational life. The earlier a teen recognizes this, the better. It is important that parents also realize that they should play a positive role in their child's educational journey. They should set realistic expectations, but never be demeaning to their teen. Also, parents should help identify their teen's weak points in a compassionate manner.
Mental health issues, especially among us teenagers, is very often stigmatized, which is detrimental to our well being. Mental health concerns in Kuwait is particularly stigmatized, as it is in many other countries in Asia. Adults often offer little additional support. How can we expect them to when they had to go through the same cycle when they were young? Sadly, stigmatizing mental health impedes help from reaching the teens who really need it.
When interviewing one of my older classmates, he told me that most teens are in fact aware that their mental state is poor, but they are not sure how to treat it. He offered a very interesting perspective. He told me, " At any school, you will find two types of students. There are academics and 'social butterflies'. Society is not suited for the people in between, such as teens who are both academic and socially active. Perhaps, the 'ïn-betweens' are the people at risk for taking their own lives due to the large accumulation of academic and social stress.'‘
President Theodore Roosevelt stated, ‘Comparison is the thief of joy,’ and this quote is why I felt that I should quit social media. I do feel much more content overall now, as I am not constantly comparing myself to my friends or strangers in other parts of the world. Social media pressures us, teens, to compare ourselves with other people’s false images online which exclusively portrays the ‘positives’ in their lives.
Deteriorating mental health must be the precursor for the sharp increase in teenage suicide rates in the past ten years ( ie nearly a 70% increase in the USA). Tackling all of these issues one by one may be the only hope in reducing the harrowing teen suicide rates. As a teenager, I plead with adults to simply be more open and understanding and less dismissive of matters that may not seem of great significance to them as they may, in fact, be very important to a teenager.
Please listen adults...
About our teen writer this month:
Greeting all readers, my name is Elijah Jacob and I am 17 years old. I live in a small country in the Middle East called Kuwait. From the Migos to Beethoven, I listen to an extremely wide variety of music as well as being an ardent instrumentalist and vocalist. One of my many passions is travelling the world and meeting new people with contrasting backgrounds. In the future, I hope to study economics and computer science at the University of California, Berkeley