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Adolescent Mental Health: Eli's Story
Mental Health
8 Minutes
Male student looks frustrated looking at his computer at school.

The Adolescent Mental Health Series is brought to you by OPTT.

According to the World Health Organization1, 1 in 6 adolescents aged 10-19 have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Depression and anxiety are among the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents. Additionally, suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among teenagers. This issue does not just exist in the United States, an estimated 1.2 million1 youth in Canada are also affected by mental illness however, less than 20% receive treatment.

This series explores the stories, feelings, and insights from teenagers who are battling mental health disorders.

In April 2022, Eli found himself making one of the most difficult decisions of his life. His depression had only gotten worse after studying at UCLA for a few months. He could not get out of bed in the morning to attend class. He was not eating enough. He was falling behind in his classes. Eli was overwhelmed and underprepared.

For the entire semester, Eli struggled with the thought of taking a break from school. He had anxiety about what his mentors would think, what his friends would think, what his parents would think. His parents were two successful real estate agents in Orange County and Eli felt pressure to be successful too.

Eli’s parents knew he was struggling, but not how severe the situation had become. In late April, Eli’s roommate Paul called his parents to express his concern for Eli’s mental health. After many discussions, it was decided that Eli’s best option was to defer his next semester and focus on getting help.

Eli’s mental health journey began long prior to this moment. Eli had three different therapists as a child. He stopped going to all three therapists at different points in his life because he felt different from his friends. Looking back, he knew that giving up three times prevented him from learning coping mechanisms and reaching a new stage in his recovery. Every time he moved on to a new therapist, he had to retell his whole life story. This left him feeling frustrated and discouraged. Eli eventually decided that the frustration he experienced was not worth it, he stopped seeing and discontinued his treatment.

After a few years without treatment, Eli’s mental health was getting worse. Now, Eli feels as though if he stayed with the therapist he had when he was younger, he would not have gotten to the point where he needed to defer a semester of university. He even believes that if he had gone to a therapist when he was younger, they may have been able to diagnose his symptoms before it was too late.

We need to promote early and continuous treatment of mental illness so students like Eli feel compelled to address their struggles sooner rather than later. Each of us can do our part in moving towards a society that promotes treatment of mental illness by encouraging ourselves and others to talk about our mental illness and the benefits of continuous and early treatment.

The New York Times1 has published, “It’s Life or Death”, mental health in adolescents is a global epidemic that is only getting worse.

What can you do to help an adolescent in need?

The New York Times 1 experts say: “Start a conversation. Be clear and direct and don’t shy from hard questions, but also approach these issues with compassion and not blame. Challenging as it may seem to talk about these issues, young people often are desperate to be heard. At the same time, talking to a parent can feel hard.”

Feeling overwhelmed?

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or having thoughts of suicide call:

United States

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

800-273-8255 (TALK)


Kids Help Phone

Text Services: Text "CONNECT" to 686868 (also serving adults)

Chat Services: https://kidshelpphone.ca/live-chat/


Global Resources: https://www.helpguide.org/find-help.htm

In an emergency call 911, go to the emergency room, and get help from a trusted adult.

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