One in five teens suffer from a mental health illness

The event aimed at teens, parents of teens, and those who work with teens.

VIRGINIA BEACH — One in five teens in the United States suffers from a mental health condition, often by the time they reach the age of 14.

Half of them don’t get the help they need, usually because of fear, peer pressure, and the stigma associated with mental illness.

Wednesday at the Zeiders American Dream Theater, teens, parents, and those who work with teens are invited to attend “Say It Out Loud,” a mental health presentation aimed at a teen audience.

The event is sponsored by the Virginia Beach office of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

The idea is to raise awareness by sharing information and starting conversations. There will be a video, followed by a panel discussion involving young adults who will talk about how mental health has affected their lives. There will also be a question and answer session.

“The audience will hear young people tell of growing up with a mental illness or of having family members and friends with mental illness,” said Kay Ashby, chairwoman of the Mental Health Awareness Coalition and a member of the NAMI Virginia Beach Board. “The goal is to help people understand that there is no health without mental health.”

Those impacted should be treated as such, she said, with awareness leading to education, learned warning signs, early detection, and treatment.

Ashby said that one in five teens has a mental health issue.

Stress associated with school can trigger problems, she added, and more mental health personnel are needed in schools.

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