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The Pony Express

The student news site of Center Hill High School.

The Pony Express

The student news site of Center Hill High School.

The Pony Express

What is the solution to the youth mental health crisis in America?

Erik Mendoza
“Mental.” Canva, Digital Art, 16 Oct. 2023.

There are over 42 million teenagers in the United States. Of the 42 million, one in seven experiences at least one mental health disorder, according to the World Health Organization.

Over the past decade, the number of adolescents taking medication for their mental health has skyrocketed, with an estimate of half a million across the U.S. Some are quick to blame the prevalence of social media in the current world, while others go as far to say we’re still living out the tragic effects of COVID-19. Whatever the reason, no one can deny the concern America has about the growing number of cases in its youth.

According to CNN Health, approximately 15% of adolescents in the United States take medication for mental illness. Common disorders such as anxiety, depression, and OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) can make daily tasks like going to school or having a job challenging for teens.

Strangely enough, although prescriptions for these illnesses have increased, the percentage of those going to therapy has not. Contradicting the numbers, doctors actually recommend that teens seek guidance from counselors before resorting to medication. Many parents have opted for the seemingly quicker, cheaper option of medication rather than taking their child to a counselor. Attending a single session of counseling can easily cost $100-200, making sustainability a major obstacle for families.

Many have also found luck when taking medication, with around 60% of users responding to the drugs within two months. The improvement in mood and overall quality of life alone is an incentive to continue taking it. People also recognize drastic reductions in future relapses.

Normalizing medicating teens can still be considered a hot take; others view it as “too risky” and prefer to implement lifestyle changes that are also credible to improving mental health, such as increased exercise and improved diet. Although medicine can help with illnesses, many consumers will soon understand the potential downside of these drugs. Antidepressants are known to cause long term weight gain, fatigue, sleep disturbance, and even digression in vision.

The fear of these conditions works as deterrents for some, as they believe that the side-effects are worse than the mental illness itself.

A large percentage of teens with mental disorders cannot afford any form of professional treatment. Today’s technology offers teens free apps that give free advice; some like BetterHelp and Headspace even offer sessions with licensed therapists. These apps focus on improving productivity of the mind and overall wellness. Many people enjoy the convenience of these free solutions, finding them just as effective as actual therapy.

Although ever-evolving, awareness surrounding mental health is predicted to rise, thanks to newly available self-care trends that promote being “real” online—like celebrities presenting themselves in a relatable way, shedding the persona of the “perfect lives” they previously donned.

In addition, people have shifted their mindset when speaking about mental health. The stigma is fading, creating a more comfortable environment for teens to connect and empathize with others like them.

The more people that are diagnosed with mental illness, the wider spread these alternative routes become. People no longer feel the pressure to attend therapy or be on prescription drugs.

With new treatments available every day, only time will tell us which kind of treatment is the most effective for healing the minds of American teens.

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About the Contributors
Maddie Fowler
Maddie Fowler, Lead Copy Editor
Sophomore Madeline Fowler is the Lead Copy Editor for The Pony Express and The Mustang.
Erik Mendoza
Erik Mendoza, Sports Director
Erik Mendoza is the Sports Director for CHHS's student newspaper The Pony Express and yearbook The Mustang.

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