Our Opinion: Extend a helping hand

Published 5:34 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Depression, suicidal thoughts and other mental health woes were part of a disturbing new report issued recently that looked at how the pandemic took such a terrible toll on young people.

More than 17,000 high school students across America took part in the survey in 2021 and the trend the study reflects is what many of us already knew. The only difference was knowing just how bad it had gotten.

The survey, unfortunately, isn’t the first to show this, only the latest that showed how isolation, online schooling and increased reliance on social media during the worst of COVID 19 played a part in this mental health crisis.

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At the same time the study reflected how decades of neglect towards mental health played a part as well.

American Rescue Plan Act dollars have helped play a part in trying to address the issue, with funds being put toward a concerted effort to meet the needs of those struggling with their mental health, but not only does this effort need to be maintained, it needs to carry forward.

We all have to recognize the continued need to meet the cries for help not only from our children, but adults as well, as depression and anxiety oftentimes leads to other struggles such as alcohol and drug dependency.

The first thing we need to do is recognize when someone is struggling and not be afraid to ask what is wrong and provide a shoulder when needed. At the same time, those struggling with their mental health can’t be afraid to reach out and move past the stigmas associated.

It’s not easy and it will require all of us to not only show compassion, but to recognize this is a problem at all levels of society.

We no longer can be more afraid of judgment, no more than we can afford to be the judges of what others are going through.

We have a long way to go and a good starting point is taking what these studies reveal and finding ways to build off of them.

“Buck up,” can’t be the norm anymore. Those words and other’s like them need to be replaced with, “How can I help?”