Every night, without exception, I find myself lying in bed thinking about the fact that there are other children out there struggling with mental illness. Mental illness takes lives every day, and can prevent the people who it impacts from living their life to its full potential.
I lost most of my childhood because of my undiagnosed mental health condition. I had no self-confidence or love towards myself. Children, particularly with adverse backgrounds, need self-confidence and self-esteem to be able to take care of themselves when they are on their own.
I want children to enjoy their childhood with or without a mental health condition. Children, especially those from difficult backgrounds, need improvements in the mental health care system in 2015. We should be excited for this New Year, because it is another year that we have the potential, and should have the will, to save lives of children that are looking to us for answers during what can be the scariest time of their lives.
Towards that end, here are my New Year’s resolutions for the mental healthcare system for young people in 2015:
- Increase hiring and training of professionals that are able to treat and diagnose mental health conditions in children and young adults.
- Inspire more young adults to come forth and write and speak about their experience with mental health conditions. Most people who are not affected by mental illness grow up with the only reference of the inaccurate media portrayal of mental illness. From early on, we need children to see accurate examples of people living with mental illness.
- Promote the benefits of early intervention and the idea that dealing with a mental health condition is not impossible.
- Incorporate more ways of addressing mental health conditions throughout a child’s school career, such as videos, in class assignments and discussions.
- Increase access to a comprehensive array of interventions, treatments, and supports for children and youth with mental health needs, as well as their families.
- Treatment for children and young adults should include more group therapy, such as art therapy and music therapy with other individuals their age. It is easy to think you are the only one going through something as traumatic as a mental health condition, so interacting with others going through similar things as you can help you to regain self-confidence.
- It is easy to feel helpless in a healthcare system that is not supporting as many individuals as it should. For this reason, we need to inspire youth to become their own advocates. It is hard to know how to find your voice when a diagnosis makes you feel like it has been taken away, but if we want improvement we need to encourage young people to speak up about the problems they see in the mental healthcare system.