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Not just another month

Kelsey Bacinett, Editor-in-Chief

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With the closing of the month of May and National Mental Health Month, it is time to open a genuine conversation about mental health.

“This entire [last] month, we wanted to nudge all of you to celebrate triumphs, acknowledge struggles, and just come together,” Post It Forward, a blog dedicated to discussing mental health online, said on its Tumblr blog. “Let other people know they’re not alone. Feel less alone yourself.”

During National Mental Health Month, the U.S. recognizes the one in five teens and adults who deal with a serious mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. However, it is important to note that mental and physical health are two separate entities.

“One problem is that people may look at mental health in the same way people look at those who have caught a physical disease, but the two are totally different,” Cathedral Catholic High School psychology teacher Mr. Francis Caro said. “The thing is, we all struggle at some point with mental health because we’re emotional creatures.”

In this digital age, media unavoidably plays a role in people’s perceptions of mental health, holding the power to help erase the stigma and move forward.

Take the popular Netflix show “13 Reasons Why,” which was released March 31 and quickly reached the status of the most tweeted show of 2017. The show continues to receive heavy criticism and backlash for its raw depiction of teen suicide, but nonetheless, it got the ball rolling on the tough topic of mental health.

“We’ve heard from our members that ’13 Reasons Why’ has opened up a dialogue among parents, teens, schools and mental health advocates around the intense themes and difficult topics depicted in the show,” the Netflix company said in a statement to The Telegraph. “Entertainment has always been the ultimate connector, and we hope that ’13 Reasons Why’ can serve as a catalyst for conversation.”

Yet, regardless of its controversial elements, the Netflix show demonstrates the media’s ability to open the door on mental health. Behind the media’s drama swarming the show’s ability to convey the depths of depression and the crushing void left behind when someone ultimately decides to take his or her life lies a powerful message: “Everything affects everything,” as the author of the “13 Reasons Why” book Jay Asher said.

Importantly, National Mental Health Month serves as a kind reminder that there are numerous resources around the CCHS community through teachers and friends.

“You have to remember that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how faint,” CCHS French teacher Mrs. Barbara Chaillou said.

In addition, students can gain support online.

When teens spend an average of nine hours consuming media each day, according research done by Common Sense Media, social media brands such as Instagram have taken advantage of their influence to help users.

At the start of the month, Instagram launched its #HereForYou campaign, partnering with brands such as “Teen Vogue” and celebrities such as Troian Bellisario from “Pretty Little Liars” to increase conversation around mental health, which leads to increased compassion and decreased stigma.

“[Instagram] is a visual platform, but many have used this space for more than just posting images,” Bellisario said on her personal Instagram. “They have found communities and friends who support them, and places where they can speak openly and honestly about their lives.

“No one should suffer in silence. There is no shame in asking for help. Take this moment to let someone know we are #hereforyou.”

National Mental Health Month serves as a friendly reminder that the power of change lies in the hands of those people who choose to accept it. The future of mental health depends on the conversations people hold now and the actions people make today to make a difference.

Whether it is offering an open ear to a friend, opening up to a friend, visiting the doctor’s office, or adopting healthy self-care practices, one act in the right direction makes all the difference.

“No one’s exempt from having mental health struggles, so I think that when people are able empathize with others more, the stigma will lessen because people will understand where people are coming from on spectrum of mental health,” Mr. Caro said. “The more we make mental health about all of us, the more people will understand it and be more accepting of other’s struggles.”


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The School Newspaper of Cathedral Catholic High School
Not just another month