Your Voice Matters

This may be a dangerous time for young people but, it is also one of the most informative times. Now more than ever we have many resources right at our fingertips. Enter in the Pandemic, lockdown and resulting isolation, that was imposed upon millions of our youth at a time in their life where every sociologist will say is the most important developmental years. This, is a recipe for disaster. The result? We are seeing mental health issues in younger and younger children because they have been deprived life experiences and personal connections that provide social and emotional learning needed for mental health and wellness.

According to the Mayo Clinic depression is defined as “a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It affects how you feel, think and behave making normal day-to-day activities difficult and sometimes a person may feel life isn’t worth living.

These stats were put out by, teen and adolescent suicides and the amount of kids dealing with depression continued to rise dramatically in recent years. Consider these alarming figures:

Every 100 minutes a teen takes their own life.
Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24.
About 20 percent of all teens experience before they reach adulthood.
Between 10 to 15 percent suffer from symptoms at any one time.
Only 30 percent of depressed teens are being treated for it.
Some teens are more at risk for depression and suicide than others.

These are known factors:

*Female teens develop depression twice as often than males.
*Abused and neglected teens are especially at risk.
*Adolescents who suffer from chronic illnesses or other physical conditions are at risk.
*Teens with a family history of depression or mental illness: between 20 to 50 percent of teens suffering from depression have a family member with depression or some other mental disorder.
*Teens with untreated mental or substance-abuse problems: approximately two-thirds of teens with major depression also battle another mood disorder like dysthymia, anxiety, antisocial behaviors, or substance abuse.

Being able to tell their story is a predominant theme in addressing mental health issues in young people so that they do not become a statistic. During the lockdown we saw many people flood Tik Tok and other online resources attempting to connect and share their stories. Bo Burnham was one such person. Bo Burnham, a man who became a YouTube sensation sharing his struggles with anxiety and depression, has used his performance art to find connection and support while encouraging others to know they are not alone. His personal witness and courage in sharing it with others has helped many people who are struggling with mental health issues like anxiety ad depression.

While much of his work can be seen by some as irreverent, it seems the younger generation LOVE his music and his specials on Netflix. Never heard of him? Go ask someone who is under 30 and dealing with their own mental health issues, I bet they tell you they can sing his songs word for word. Why is that? because they see his work giving voice to their own struggles. His music and his performance art gives us a view into his experience as a person living with depression and anxiety. Perhaps it is his vulnerably raw performances that draws so many to his work because they too went through the pandemic, while also experiencing traumas, disruptions at home, divorce or death of a parent or loved ones, all while in isolation.

Schools need resources to create opportunities for them to feel safe enough to make the connections. This is where Dignity Revolution comes in. It is An Evidence Based Curriculum coupled with a Teacher Training that gives teachers and staff the tools, activities, knowledge and training to provide a safe space and opportunity to for youth to speak about their own social and emotional health. It also can be paired with an amazing school assembly experience in which personal testimony and an illusionist take center stage to awaken the hearts and minds of youth and adult alike to see the value of every person. Someone in your life needs to hear that they matter. Be the voice, be the one to tell them. Dignity Revolution can help. Reach out and take the pledge. We will walk along side of you as you bring transformation and healing to your school. One person can change the world and that person is you.