I give presentations on mental illness in different places, and one of those places is in schools. Kids aged 12-18 get to hear about mental illness, stigma and my personal story of bipolar disorder. This takes around an hour. And after hearing an hour of me speak about my personal challenges and about how I have faced down bipolar disorder are a myriad of treatment failures, the teens often feel a certain closeness with me. I suspect it is for this reason that after the presentation, so many of them come up and talk to me. They talk about how they have been in the hospital or how they have a friend with bipolar or that they think they might have a mental illness.
And, of course, if a teen thinks they have the symptoms of a mental illness I always say, “Have you talked to your parents about this?”
And I always expect them to look at me like I just said something ridiculous because when I was their age, I sure would have found the notion laughable.
But they generally don’t. Many, many of them have, indeed, talked to their parents. And what have the parents done?
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