Insightful Teen Gets Real About Mental Health In Interview With 'Humans Of New York'

"They think they know the future. And it’s going to be horrible. And they’ll never be able to fix it."

This teen may only be in eighth grade, but she's wise beyond her years. In an interview with photographer Brandon Stanton for his popular project Humans of New York (HONY), the anonymous girl got real about teenage mental health issues. While many adults may look back on their teenage years and think life was so much easier back then, she points out how difficult growing up can be for some of her peers. 

"I don't think I'm going to miss eighth grade. It's been a tough year," she said. "A lot of my friends are struggling with depression and self-harm, and it's hard for me to watch. I just care about them so much." 

Her friends are certainly not alone. "In 2015, an estimated 3 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in the past year," according to the National Institute of Mental Health. A John's Hopkins study published late last year found that clinical depression reports for adolescents increased by 37 percent from 2004 to 2014 and it's particularly prevalent in girls


The teen continued to explain to Stanton some of the difficult challenges teens face each day. 

"Growing up is so hard for some people," she said. "It's your foundation, I guess. You're becoming you. It's such a big thing and we're going through it right now. Some of my friends are struggling with loving themselves and loving life." 

Despite the fact that this girl is only in eighth grade, she understands something most adults try to get through to adolescents: there's is still so much change to come. Things won't be this way forever. Moments that feel like the end of the world now will be a blip on their radar in the future. 

"I think they forget that we're still learning," the teen said about her peers. "They think that they're already who they're going to be. They think they know the future. And it's going to be horrible. And they'll never be able to fix it. But that's not true because we're still changing. And we'll always be changing. Even when we're old, we'll be changing."

This girl's insight certainly deserves praise and her friends are lucky to have her. However, many adolescents don't think this way and it's incredibly important that those who are struggling with mental illness or self-injury get the help they need. 

"There are a growing number of untreated adolescents with depression and that we are making few inroads in getting mental health care to this population," the leader of that John's Hopkins study mentioned earlier, Ramin Mojtabai, MD, PhD, MPH, said. "It is imperative that we find ways to reach these teenagers and help them manage their depression." 

To learn more about depression and resources available to treat it, visit the National Institute of Mental Health's website. If you or someone you know is considering self-harm call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.


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