• peggy thompson

4 Things I Wish I Knew About Mental Health

Updated: Feb 18

Image from: Real Simple

We often find ourselves learning about serious subjects so late in our lives that we say to ourselves “I wish I knew that before…” Although I am still a kid, these are things I wish I knew earlier in life. I grew up not understanding what mental health was, and wasn’t taught about depression and anxiety the same I was taught about fever and the flu. As I grew to the ripe age of fifteen I found things I wish I knew before.

First, yes this one might seem simple, but I wish I knew about different mental illnesses. As much as understanding our young bodies is pushed in public education, we never learn about things that could be going on in our minds. If I had known about different types of mental illness as a kid I could recognize red flags in my own and others’ behaviors and done my best to be allies to those with a mental illness.

Second, I wish I knew it was normal to have deep emotions. I feel like such a kid for saying this, but as I grew and there were changes in my behavior I would have liked to know that this was completely normal. I had never experienced extreme anger or sadness as a kid, so when I started having experienced them, I didn’t know it was normal.

Third, I wish I knew that mental illness can affect anyone. There are stereotypes that we sometimes place on people relating to their mental health that I didn’t understand. I didn’t understand that no matter how they act, someone I know could be struggling with a mental illness.

Fourth, I wish I knew that mental health wasn’t bad to talk about. Growing up, I didn’t talk about my emotions with my family, in fact, I still don’t. Sometimes it can be an awkward conversation, but asking simple things like “How are you feeling” or “Is there anything you want to talk about” can open flood gates for those who might be struggling silently. Once we start recognizing that everyone has emotions and struggles, we can start to talk about it without fear.

I know this list will get longer as I grow and learn more about myself and others, and I’m okay with that. I hope that what you take away from this is that we learn as we grow, and mental health takes time to understand.

Peggy Thompson, TeensForHope Co-Editor

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