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Analysis: Mental Illness Is Not Just a Phase

Demi’s struggle is teaching us a lot about the importance of mental health awareness.

Alex Mauriello

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Demi Lovato’s recent hospitalization is a tragedy that sheds light on the severity of addiction and mental illness. She has been more than open about her personal struggles, even going so far as to film a documentary about her journey to sobriety in 2017. That same year, she announced her new position as a Mental Health Ambassador for Global Citizen, a program that seeks to “learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges.” She has expressed her concerns and her support for others during concerts, shows, and all over social media. In an interview, she stated that she had made a promise to God that “If you make me a singer, I’m going to use my voice for so much more than singing, and I’m going to help people with it.”

So why do so many people still believe that mental illness isn’t real?

We’ve all heard it before: “Oh cheer up,” “Stop being sad,” or worst, “Just get over it. There’s always someone that has it worse.” But with rapidly growing pressures on our generation to achieve the highest standard academically, socially, and physically (in terms of weight and size) more than ever before, mental illness and related issues have reached exorbitant heights.

It has become an epidemic.

Anne Longfield, England’s Children’s Commissioner, states that “almost 20% of girls at 14 now have a diagnosed mental health condition. A quarter of teenage girls have been diagnosed with depression.” The US Center for Disease Control has cited that in 2015, teen suicide rates had reached their highest point in 40 years, with 1,537 suicides among teen males and 524 among teen females, both aged 15-19. The suicide rate has doubled from 2007-2015 alone. It is the second leading cause of death among both college-age adults and teens ages 12-18 only to accidents and unintentional injuries.

Which means that when our generation is not dying by chance, they are dying by choice.

Dan Reidenberg, executive director of the Suicide Awareness Voices of Education suggests that “we make it okay to talk about things that are causing emotional pain, and let people know that it is real, and that it can get better. We should be concerned, because dying by suicide shouldn’t be an option, and young people often feel like it is their only option.”

People are often prone to brush off teens’ mental health issues as merely “teen angst” or mood swings. But what they may not realize is that this could be their way of crying out for help.

Almost exactly a month before her hospitalization, Demi Lovato released her new single “Sober,” with the caption “my truth.” In it, she sings painstakingly  personal lyrics such as “I don’t know why / I do it every… time,” and “I wanna be a role model / but I’m only human.” StarPittsburg Radio.com proclaimed that this song was “heartbreaking.”

So why wasn’t enough done?

It has been reported that Lovato’s close friends had attempted an intervention a few weeks prior to her overdose. But on the night of the occurrence, she had been “partying with friends who didn’t have her best interests at heart.”

There is no surefire way to make a person feel loved, safe, and cared for. There is no one way to make them believe that you are only trying to help, and just want the best for them. But in times like these, where mental illness is at an all-time high, it is so vitally important to be there when they come to you. To recognize and understand the signs that despite protest and aggravation they really aren’t okay.

Because really, all we ever want is to be heard, accepted, and loved.

If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HELLO to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.

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Alex Mauriello is a senior English major with a Biology minor at The College of New Jersey. She loves pizza, her dogs, and using excessive amounts of sarcasm whenever possible.

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