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Adolescent Mental Health: Jay's Story
Mental Health
8 Minutes
Three boys sitting in a school assembly.

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.


Jay is a senior in high school who struggles with depression. He has been experiencing difficulty because he manages multiple schedules with his care team. On more than one occasion, Jay has gone to the wrong provider, at the wrong time, when he was supposed to be somewhere else. Jay has also been prescribed the same medication from multiple providers. Although he didn’t use all the medication, the combined dosage that was prescribed could have been lethal. Jay constantly felt overwhelmed organizing his schedule, appointments, medications, homework, and academics.

Jay was frustrated because he felt he was committing time, effort and money to get treatment for his depression but the system continuously kept failing him. His lack of motivation was a barrier to access, coordinating appointments, telling each care provider what the other said, and being responsible for multiple medications. The worst part was when something new triggered his emotions, he would have to schedule appointments with his doctor, psychologist, and psychiatrist to update the entire team. He felt like he was constantly repeating himself.

He thought it would be a lot easier if they could just talk to each other, but that was not possible because they worked with different clinics and in different cities. This meant the lack of communication between his therapist and psychiatrist was a great source of anxiety and frustration, keeping him in the middle of multiple conflicting practitioners.

Jay’s lack of organization is not to blame in this situation. Instead, there is a larger problem here. If the health care system was more streamlined and there was efficient communication between Jay’s doctor, psychiatrist and psychologist could communicate with each other. He may not have experienced anxiety and frustration while treating his depression. 

Jay is not the only one facing this issue. Innovations that streamline communication and cooperation within a care team are the future of a more effective mental health care system.

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)


Canada

Kids Help Phone

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

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

Global

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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