Mental illness is an invisible wound that affects so many high-school students while the people around them have no idea of their suffering. We get so caught up in what is going on in our lives that we often forget to consider the possibility that the girl in our homeroom or the boy in our fourth period could be desperately needing someone to talk to. According to Susan Wile Schwarz from the National Center of Children in Poverty, about 20% of adolescents have a diagnosable mental disorder, but this alarmingly high statistic typically does not occur to us when we are interacting with our peers at school. Mental illnesses like depression and anxiety are so widely dismissed that we often forget that they can affect anyone including our peers. Apex High School senior Allison Crowley is well-aware of the seriousness of the issue and is doing something about it.
After seeing small pictures and magnets with the suicide hotline written on them around Apex, Crowley could not help but wonder, “Why not make it bigger? Why not spread the word more?” Such important messages are being communicated via such miniscule sources which is ultimately leading to a lack of knowledge about the matter. Now, she is taking it upon herself to spread the word by making posters raising awareness for mental health to put up around Apex High School. Crowley is making these posters with several goals in mind. She wants to educate people and end societal norms that are currently in place; there are stigmas attached to mental illnesses, and she is striving to break these stigmas through these posters. “I hope that after I start putting the posters up, talking about mental health will not be so taboo. I want people to feel more comfortable talking about it,” Crowley says. “I hope that people with depression will stop being seen as ‘lazy’ and people with anxiety will stop being seen as ‘attention-seekers’ and start being seen as serious as they really are.”
People often think that because mental health is a sensitive topic they cannot talk about it, and that could not be farther from the truth. There are many misconceptions of mental health awareness that Crowley wants to fix. “Mental health is not talked about enough because most people are not educated enough about it. Mental illness is everywhere, so instead of ignoring it, it is important that we start talking about it,” she says. Her posters will help remind everyone at Apex High School that mental illness can affect anyone, and the best way to take care of the issue is to talk about it openly.
A student who is suffering from depression may see one of Crowley’s posters and realize that it is okay to talk to someone about his or her struggle. Anyone around us could be suffering from a mental illness that makes every day an uphill battle for them, and it is through people like Crowley that we will learn what we can do to help them. If you are suffering from a mental illness, remember that it is okay to talk to someone about it; you are not alone, and students like Allison Crowley are making sure of that.