Teen Advisors Weigh in on Mental Health Awareness Month

Advocacy , Health

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and the Girl Up Community is all about supporting health and wellness. Girl Up Teen Advisors and Club Leaders get real and share their thoughts on mental health, wellness, self-care, and self-love.

Girl Up Teen Advisor Paola:

Mental health is a topic that should be talked about more, it may be more common than we think and that is usually a danger for us. In addition to mental conditions that are beyond our control, such as schizophrenia, autism, among many others, we are all vulnerable at some point in our lives to develop a condition that affects our health, such as depression, anxiety, OCD, etc. By not being informed on the subject, it is usually more difficult to identify if at any time we could present these conditions. Today, girls and adolescents in particular are vulnerable to not feeling comfortable with themselves, and one of the main causes is the influence of social media. Many campaigns have been carried out to ensure that brands do not represent beauty standards such as perfection, and many advances have been made, but it is also important to educate society, to teach children and especially girls to feel comfortable with who they are.

“Something that is important for me is knowing that I have people who support me.”

Something that is important for me is knowing that I have people who support me. When having a mental disorder, it is advisable to seek help from a professional, but a big part of the healing process will be of your own will and the desire to improve, to achieve this it is very helpful to know that you have people who support you and that they accept you as you are. You may not know if the person next to you has depression, but it never hurts to say hello, ask how they are feeling today, or even give a compliment, those small actions could help that person to feel better the next day.

[Photo credit: Mayberry Health and Home]

Girl Up Teen Advisor Lavanya:

I believe in raising awareness for mental health because it can spark small changes that can make a huge difference in someone’s state of being. After I realized that my mental health is just as important as my physical health, I was able to take concrete steps towards living a more intentionally happy life, like keeping a journal of little moments in my day that made me smile. Mental health amplifies my activism by helping me find compassion and motivation within myself to make the world a better place.

Girl Up Teen Advisor Amanda:

I think that anyone can benefit from focusing on their mental health, even if they aren’t necessarily having any mental issues. Mental health is so much more than your emotions and how you feel on a daily basis. The different aspects of your wellbeing are all interconnected. Therefore, if you don’t take the time to focus on your mental health, not only may you start to experience negative emotions associated with poor mental health, but your physical and social wellbeing may also be affected. For example, allowing the stress of schoolwork and grades to build can cause headaches and lack of sleep as well as affect your mood (I’m sure many of us can relate!).

“After I realized that my mental health is just as important as my physical health, I was able to take concrete steps towards living a more intentionally happy life.”

There is no singular solution, but there are plenty of ways to improve your mental state and care for yourself, you just need to figure out what works for you! Try out some apps that offer guided meditation if you think this might work for you. If that’s not your thing, try going for a run, doing some yoga, or participating in any other type of exercise you enjoy. Just like how one neglected element of your wellbeing can have negative effects on other parts of your life, making a positive change to your physical wellbeing can improve your mental health too. I find reaching out to other people can be a really effective form of self-care. I would definitely recommend building your own “support system” of a few people to keep in mind that you can talk to when you need some support.

Girl Up Teen Advisor Chanice:

Within the hustle and bustle of our daily life activities, mental health is something that is often forgotten. Raising awareness for mental health is so important because oftentimes, there are people spending ample amounts of time suffering in silence not knowing what to do or how to get help. Girls especially have a lot of pressure placed on ourselves whether it be the pressure to live up to societal expectations or gender roles, extreme amounts of pressure can definitely take a toll on someone’s mental well-being. This is why it’s important to have a support system that can uplift you wherever you’re feeling down, confused, or stressed whether it be a friend, family member, or therapist. I’ve learned from my own personal experiences that keeping your feelings bottled up inside of you is the quickest (and unhealthiest) way to deal your problems and the best way to overcome them is by talking about it and addressing it.

Girl Up Teen Advisor Alissa:

Whenever mental health is mentioned, I never used thought it applied to me. The words that first entered my mind were depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and everything else the world around me taught me to associate mental health problems with. It was the one topic no one spoke about. However, as I began to get older, I realized mental health isn’t just depression, anxiety, and so on. I also realized everyone around me has experienced a mental health problem, and I soon realized I had too. When I had close family members pass away, when I began to experience stress at school and outside, I didn’t realize that was affecting my mental health. I was never taught how to manage mental health problems and what resources were available to me. When we don’t have support systems we are left alone to face it by ourselves. It isn’t easy, and it doesn’t get easier without proper support. As a girl, a latina, and a minority I have seen other girls go through mental health problems that sought help from schools. After my school community lost a student to suicide, there was surge of support from the community and school.

“Mental health affects everyone, and not talking about it doesn’t make it go away.”

Mental health affects everyone, and not talking about it doesn’t make it go away. When we educate ourselves, teach others, start the conversation, take action, and raise awareness we can all learn how to help ourselves and others. Change happens when you raise awareness and break barriers.

Girl Up Club Leader Menitha:

It is important that we keep every part of us healthy through self-care, especially our minds since the brain is still developing as a teen. Implementing a few simple tips into your routine will keep your mind healthy such as getting enough sleep, meditation, exercising, aromatherapy, etc. It’s also important that you talk to someone you trust such as a family member, therapist, teacher, or friend if you are having problems with your mental wellness.

Always remember that suffering a mental illness does not make you weak.

Mental health is not as discussed as physical health due to the stigma of suffering from mental illness makes one weak around it which is why it is important that we have a month like Mental Health Awareness Month to reduce the stigma. Focus on your mental health for it is just as important as you physical health and always remember that suffering a mental illness does not make you weak and that you are not alone.

Girl Up Club Leader Perla:

Self care is important to me because I believe that the only one who can truly take care of ourselves is us. That’s why I believe that the best way to start caring about ourselves is listening to ourselves. Personally, the way I listen to myself is by practicing meditation and yoga. I love doing meditation and yoga, these two activities also help me by being aware of my emotions so that I can accept them and control them. There is not such thing as a good or a bad emotion. They just are, feel free to feel them, accept them, deal with them, and control them.

“You are free to feel, don’t ever think that you are being too sensitive or dramatic. Whatever you feel is okay.”

I also think that taking care of ourselves is accepting who we are and loving ourselves! Trying to see the beauty and positive in everything! And enjoying every second of our lives. Even though sometimes bad things might happen, we must try to see the positive side of the situation, because there is beauty in everything if we learn to see it!

Dedicating a month to make awareness about the subject creates more conscience about it, and informs people about the importance of mental health. For me, mental health is the most important health aspect in our lives.

Our minds are everything! So let’s start taking care!