National Adolescent Health Month

May 17, 2022

Denver Health Adolescent Health Month

May is National Adolescent Health Month and Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health is a large part of adolescent health, so let's talk about it.

I learned from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that more than 50 percent of people will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime. 

We are living in a time where mental health illnesses have increased yet many of us don't understand what mental health is or what it looks like, so we invalidate others' emotional state of being. It doesn't have to be like that. We can be aware of mental health, what resources we have, and live healthier/happier lives.

Learn more about mental health services at Denver Health's School-based Health Centers and warning signs of anxiety and depression in this FOX31 News interview.

What is Mental Health?

Some people may ask, what do you mean by let's talk about mental health? What is mental health? Well, according to the CDC, the formal definition of mental health is "our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make healthy choices."

We all have different ways of coping with things. You know when you are struggling with something in your mind and you feel like you have no one to talk to? Or maybe you feel things you cannot describe? Both of those are related to your mental health. You may feel this way and not understand what the cause is (school, friends, relationships, family, something else?). These feelings might make us want to crawl in some hidden space and hide. But the thing is – so many people feel this way!

There is no reason why an individual should feel the need to hide or believe their feelings are invalid.

My Mental Health Journey

Here's a quick story about me. There was a time when I did not think mental health was a thing, nor did I ever classify myself as someone who fits the category of needing to talk to someone, mainly because I did not know what mental health was. 

I struggled with friends/relationships for a long time. I always thought I was not liked for this reason or that; I was very insecure because of that. I always thought I had to hide what I felt because who cares, I'm just a teenager who is in her "feelings." It was the idea of being considered as too much of an emotional person that pushed me away from talking about my feelings in the first place. It was the stigma associated with that, that scared me. It was the fear of people thinking I am crazy in a sense that scared me. 

It wasn't until I really understood what mental health is and all the resources I had available to me that I began to embark on a new, healthier mental health journey in my life. I had this realization because I went to see someone at my School-based Health Center in my school to talk about my mental health.

Your situation may be different, but the idea with all this is understanding what mental health is and not running away from the concept of working with people who care for you and want to work alongside you to remind you that we are all humans and nothing we feel is invalid; rather our mental health is so valid that we should be aware and even celebrate it. When we understand our own mental state, we can make healthier choices. We can better cope with friendship, relationship, school or other things in our lives that may cause us stress.

Mental Health Tips and Reminders

  • Your feelings are not invalid
  • Reach out to people who want to work with you to build a happier/healthier life
  • Dealing with mental health does not mean you are crazy, it just means we are humans, things get hard, and we sometimes need people willing to work with us through it
  • Do not be ashamed, but embrace and celebrate your mental health

Mental Health Resources for Teenagers

  • Mental health services are available to all Denver Public Schools students through our School-based Health Centers: Call 303-602-8958 to make an appointment
  • All visits to School-based Health Centers are available at no cost and visits are confidential, whether it's for mental health, a physical or for family planning/sexual health: Learn more here
  • If you are currently in crisis, call 1-844-493-8255 or text “TALK” to 38255

Remember: stay healthy and happy, celebrate!

Jemima Safi is a youth advisor at Denver Health's School-based Health Centers, where she works to bring the youth voice into the medical environment. She is currently a second year student at the University of Colorado Denver, working towards a finance degree, with minors in economics, leaderships and international studies.

She has found that there are many young people who need support with their mental health, like herself. She has come to understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle, and is very passionate about sharing her experiences with others. She hopes to see more youths like her understand the importance and beauty of mental health.