Teens across the country are battling mental health issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of suicides in females aged 15-24 years old increased by 87% over the past 20 years. For boys in the same age group, suicides rose by 30%.
Rebecca, Tomi, Zariyah, and Mikayla, attend Vox Atlanta, a teen-driven professional space that allows them to self-express. They say there's a difference between what young men and young women are facing when it comes to mental health.
“Young women tend to – even statistics can prove it, too – young women tend to view mental health as something that is they can actually talk about. And I feel like men are a lot of times, like, silenced by toxic masculinity where they're like, don't talk about your feelings at all," Zariyah said.
“Women are taught to be more vulnerable, and men to just hide their feelings – to just be strong, be a man. And that’s definitely not true,” Tomi said.
The girls say school can also take a toll on their mental health.
“Walking through the halls, you will probably get laughed at by someone at some point. You will always think and compare yourself that you aren’t pretty enough or someone else is prettier than you,” Rebecca said. “You will get harassed. You will get catcalled. It is a very aggressive environment.”
Add in social media to the equation and the results can be detrimental.
“Back when I was in high school, there was this Instagram page dedicated for my school, all about ranking girls and their different Instagram photos. And you wouldn’t see any Instagram pages about ranking the guys. But there were these girls, and they were getting called twos and ones, and really hateful things would be commented under the posts. And you know, it was really hard to – I actually took down all my posts,” Mikayla said.
Showing compassion is something the girls say can help anyone dealing with mental health issues.
“I want people to know that, hey, prioritize yourself, prioritize your own needs, prioritize what you can do to make yourself happy,” Zariyah said.
Mikayla added, “I feel like there’s always a stigma, and there’s a different stigma for both males than females. And as long as we’re just having conversations about what those stigmas are then how we can get better from that, then I think that’s a good start.”