Break the Mental Health Stigma

Makayla Kennedy, OwlFeed Lifestyle Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article discusses topics involving mental health. If you or someone you know needs help, reach out to a school staff member, or see these resources. 

Mental health is just as important as physical health. When people fall sick, they go to the doctor for medication to treat it. When someone has a mental illness it’s the same thing but their brain is sick and they need help to fix it. 

The tenth leading cause of death in the United States is suicide. It shouldn’t be so high though. This is why mental health awareness is so important. People need to know that they aren’t alone.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2019, one in five adults suffered with a mental illness — that’s 51.5 million people. Mental health education needs to be taught to help kids who may end up feeling this way. 

Unfortunately there is a big stigma around mental health, making people uncomfortable to talk about what they’re going through. If you are suffering, please know you aren’t alone. So many people are going through some sort of mental illness or disorder daily. One of your friends may even be a victim of mental illness without anyone knowing. 

I was fortunate enough to speak with some Agua Fria students who were brave enough to share their stories. 

One person I interviewed was Abby, a former Agua Fria student. They told me they really struggled at 15-16 years old but was fortunate enough to overcome harmful thoughts. 

They said, “I’m glad I overcame many harmful thoughts because it makes a huge difference being able to enjoy certain things in life and to know how to help myself when I have days that I struggle.” 

Their advice for anyone in the same situation is, “It’s very difficult feeling our emotions sometimes when they’re underplayed but focusing on yourself and what you’re feeling matters most, not only in general but especially when you’re in a bad mental space.” 

Another person I talked to was Alexis, a senior at Agua Fria. During 8th grade her mental health was the worst, but she eventually reached out for help and that made a huge difference. She’s glad she survived because “never did I imagine my life to be the way it is now.” 

To anyone struggling she says, “Things may be hard now and be challenging but it will eventually get better.”

The last person I interviewed was Bryan, another senior at Agua Fria. He said during August-September of 2020 was the worst he’s felt. He bottled his feelings and ended up in the hospital due to a panic attack. 

He started therapy which has been a big help. “A lot of talk therapy and exercising also made a big impact on my overall health,” he said. 

To anyone struggling he said, “Do not be afraid to seek professional help. It’s not embarrassing at all and you’ll be doing what will help you in the long run.”

Photo Credit: lionsdigest

I know it doesn’t feel like things will be okay in the moment but everything will work out in the end. When I was 14 I didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and I was really struggling. Simple tasks like making cereal took all my energy. 

While I still struggle sometimes, especially during the pandemic, I’ve learned to manage it. I surrounded myself with people who care about me and who I trust and it helped a lot. Things will be okay. Reach out if you need it and know that what you’re feeling is only temporary and people love you. 

Fortunately, talking about mental health is slowly being normalized. Celebrities are being more open with their mental health which shows fans that even their idols can struggle. 

One celebrity that comes to mind is a musician named Mothica. Her songs focus around her mental health and always reminds fans that it’s okay to be sad. She’s very vulnerable, which really helps. Her new song “Forever Fifteen” is centered around the story of her trying to take her life at 15. The music video is filled with fans in the same position. 

If you or anyone you know is struggling please don’t hesitate to reach out for help. We’re in a rough time in history and you are not weak for being vulnerable about struggling. I’ll list resources below if anyone ever needs it. Take care of yourself. 


Suicide Hotline: 800-273-8255

The Trevor Project: 866-488-7386

National Eating Disorder Association: 1-800-931-2237

Crisis Text Line: Text SUPPORT to 741-741