New America Media published an article about how California youth depression is fueled by a code of silence, which can only be broken when there is an environment perceived as safe where kids can talk about their points of pain. The hope for youth suffering with depression and anxiety is that parents, educators and health care providers become educated about recognizing and responding to mental health issues among youth. According to this report, the mental health problems in California account for 85 percent of the disease burden for people between the ages of 15 and 25.
Sixteen-year-old Rocklin resident Leenah Bassouni is concerned that this code of silence prolongs the suffering of her peers. “Why are kids turning to drugs? Many of my friends have issues talking about their depression. They are searching to fill a need that cannot be met until they are validated,” Bassouni said, “But instead the message kids receive is ‘shut up and take a pill’.”
An active volunteer in her community, Bassouni queries whether the chemical imbalance associated with mental illness is simply a matter of treating with medication. She wonders where are the relationships rooted in unconditional love that leads to healing. She serves on the California Youth Crisis Line, and fields calls from teens struggling with emotional pain and/or abuse. “Where is the love? Why are youth not expressing their feelings and being validated? Kids are falling through the cracks without getting to the root of issues to heal,” she said.
Passionate about engaging youth to participate in meaningful and important work, Bassouni uses the internet to find volunteer assignments; and while she does carry a mobile device, she chooses not to use social media. “Youth need to be heard and validated by getting involved in the community to make a difference and solve problems,” she said. “This is the validation that leads to empowerment.”
- For help connecting with your teen struggling with anxiety and depression, go to: Therapeutic Solutions 360
- Learn how to make your home a sanctuary: Fresh Start training for building a family culture rooted in faith
- Tips for meaningful conversations with teens about drugs and alcohol: Coalition for Placer Youth