The best way to get people talking about mental health is to talk about mental health! In doing this, we break down stigma and make a more inclusive and resilient community. Conversations about teen mental health need to be a partnership with adults, but teen voices are also key. The Here.Now. Teen Leadership Committee and Teen Executive Board put this list together in collaboration with the Here.Now. professional team.
1. Our voices are important because it is our mental health. When we know adults are listening to us, we find it easier to trust them and listen to their thoughts and recommendations.
2. We want a partnership with the adults in our lives. Adults have valuable lessons to teach and can help us develop the language we need to express our feelings. The knowledge of adults coupled with the passion and energy of teens can be an unstoppable force.
3. Sometimes we feel looked down upon by adults or made to feel small, and like we can’t control ourselves. When we are empowered and given leadership opportunities, it helps us open up and have difficult conversations.
4. As teens, it is just easier to talk to other teens. Having to explain life as a teenager today is exhausting – and we don’t have to do that with each other. We understand what it feels like to grow up in the tech age. Social media has drastically changed the teenage experience and it’s unique to our generation.
5. Teens experience their mental health in a different way from adults. We can admit it, sometimes we feel things really strongly. Blame the hormones or puberty if you like, but we really do experience our emotions differently.
6. It’s not that we hate authority, we just hate feeling like we’re being talked down to, but then again, so does everyone!
7. Only teens have the power to destigmatize mental health for other teens. Adults can’t do that, no matter how hard they try. We look to our peers for validation, connection, and community.
8. Adults can be too solution-focused. Sometimes we just need the space to rant, express ourselves, breathe, and sit with our feelings. Sometimes we need help with that.
9. We’re going to need these skills in the future. It’s better that we start learning about mental health, leadership, and advocacy as teens. We want your help, but we also want to grow and develop those skills. Please give us those opportunities.
10. Because our voices matter.