Depression, eating disorders, addiction, self-injury, sucicide…these are some our most pressing issues regarding today’s youth. We can no longer push these issues under the carpet and pretend they do not exist or will just go away. We need to speak honestly, openly, and progressively to combat one of the biggest problems facing our youth.
First the facts:
121 million people worldwide suffer from depression. (World Health Organization)
18 million of these cases are happening in the United States. (The National Institute of Mental Health)
Between 20% and 50% of children and teens struggling with depression have a family history of this struggle and the offspring of depressed parents are more than three times as likely to suffer from depression. (U.S. Surgeon General’s Survey, 1999)
Depression often co-occurs with anxiety disorders and substance abuse, with 30% of teens with depression also developing a substance abuse problem. (NIMH)
2/3 of those suffering from depression never seek treatment.
Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide, and suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers. (NIMH)
Last week during the Warped Tour, PMM and myself were lucky enough to sit down with Jason who is a representative for To Write Love On Her Arms. To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire as well as to invest directly into treatment and recovery (TWLOHA website).
We spoke with Jason at length regarding the mission of TWLOHA and what ways people can get involved to combat thiese serious social issues (please see below for entire audio interview). As a high school teacher who has dealt with depression and anxiety on a personal level all my life, as well as having experienced students very close to me struggle with these issues, the work of TWLOHA is a blessing. I have unfortunately lost a few students to suicide and directly see the critical need for organizations such as TWLOHA.
TWLOHA is working very aggressively at speaking about these issues where they most often lie: amongst high school and college age students. TWLOHA launched The Storytellers High School Campaign in October 2011 as an initiative to change these numbers and open a conversation in high schools that discusses mental health and community. They are also creating University Chapters across the country to help college students know where the resources are for help and educate. The Storytellers is a two-month campaign where a student organizer works with a faculty advisor on behalf of their high school to create awareness about mental health issues, bring the TWLOHA message to their school, and foster community on their campus, while also raising funds for TWLOHA. The program is completely free and of no cost to the student or school involved. There are a variety of incentives for participating, including the opportunity for a TWLOHA event. Their hope and goal is that by reaching high school students in their everyday environment, and by engaging the student body as a whole, we can change the numbers (TWLOHA website).
Please think about ways that you can help. To explore some options that TWLOHA offers check out their website:
For our full interview with Jason click here: TWLOHA
Photos from Warped Tour courtesy of MPAP Photo