Generation Z addresses mental health


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Anxiety and major depressive disorder are the most common mental disorders in the U.S. These disorders often occur together.

From a common cold to broken bones, illness and injury come in many forms, but one type of illness that people don’t often consider is mental illness. Mental illnesses, such as anxiety and depression, are very common for teens, especially Generation Z.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7.1%, 4.4 million people, age 3-17 have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and 3.2%, 1.9 million people, age 3-17 have been been diagnosed with depression.

Over the summer, four high school students from Oregon, inspired by the activism of students from Parkland, Fla., decided that they too wanted to make a change by addressing their state’s mental health crisis. They created a bill that would add mental illness to the list of acceptable reasons for an excused absence from school. This is similar to a law passed in Utah last year.

Since the passing of this law, there has been backlash from some parents and other lawmakers saying that it is unnecessary, as students have always made up excuses to stay home from school. While it is true that there is little stopping students from lying and faking sickness if they need to stay home, the point of the law is to promote conversations about mental health so that students no longer feel the need to lie if they are suffering from mental illness.

There always has been and always will be students who lie to get out of going to school, but acknowledging mental illness as an accepted reason shows those struggling with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues, that their pain is real and valid. Along with a rise in the national suicide rate, in the past 10 years there has been a significant increase in mental health problems for teens and young adults compared to past generations.

The people who disagree with the new law, and say that Generation Z is too sensitive and that we need to “toughen up”, don’t understand how vital it is that students are able to feel comfortable opening up about their mental health because sometimes a conversation can be the difference between life or death.