International Youth Day 2014

By Max Hill

20% of world's youth experience a mental health conditionToday is International Youth Day 2014. The purpose this day is to raise awareness for youth living with mental health issues. The United Nations says the reason for this being the focus of this International Youth Day this year is, “Youth with mental health conditions can often experience stigma and discrimination, which in turn can lead to exclusion and/or discourage people from seeking help for fear of being negatively ‘labeled’.”

I see this issue as one that hits close to home for me. Growing up I had (and still have) many friends that live with mental illnesses and see the difficult struggles that they go through in building the courage to seek help. I also see where this issue affects youth that have grown under horrific conditions. For example, when conducting my research and preparing for my presentation on child soldiers, I read and saw many different cases in which children struggled to get help after either escaping or being rescued from captivity. Many of the stories I read included children who were excluded from their communities because people just didn’t know how to deal with them.

Every child deserves the opportunity to enjoy the innocence that we often associate with childhood. Mental illness can jeopardize this for youth that have to live with this struggle. By raising awareness, young people can see that if they are dealing with mental illness, their struggle is not one that they have to go through alone. Raising awareness can help youth understand that they do not need to fear seeking help.

Join us and help raise awareness for yourself and your community.

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