March 2: World Teen Mental Wellness Day

Awareness of mental wellness has increased in the last three years so much that a new crisis number was created,

Awareness of mental wellness has increased in the last three years so much that a new crisis number was created, 988.

As of July 16, 2022, a new way for people to reach out for help in the U.S. became available. According to NPR, anyone dealing with a mental health crisis can now text or call the number 9-8-8 to get in contact with a trained mental health professional.

The new three-digit Suicide & Crisis Lifeline was modeled after 911 to be memorable and quick. “If you are willing to turn to someone in your moment of crisis, 988 will be there. 988 won’t be a busy signal, and 988 won’t put you on hold. You will get help,” said Xavier Becerra, the secretary of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, at a press briefing.

Previously, in the situation of an emergency (mental or physical), you would’ve been directed to call 911. However, that number wasn’t initially created to address mental health-related issues. Psychologist Benjamin Miller, president of Well Being Trust, said “Unlike other medical emergencies, mental health crises overwhelmingly result in a law enforcement response.” He revealed that “about 20% of [police] total staff time is spent responding and transporting individuals who are experiencing a mental health crisis.”

The purpose of 988 is to reduce the number of confrontations that occur with law enforcement when someone is experiencing a mental health crisis. Rather than have people waiting, they will get immediate help when connected to a trained counselor at a crisis center closest to them. However, if that center is busy, they will be redirected to one of the 16 backup centers across the country.

“Over time, the vision for 988 is to have additional crisis services available in communities across the country, much the way emergency medical services work,” shared the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) assistant secretary for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Miriam Delphin-Rittmon.

It’s Okay To Feel Your Feelings

It’s cool to not feel your feelings until it isn’t. Our emotions connect us with who we are. However, going from the busy lives we had to the more mellow ones during the pandemic, we were forced to spend more time with our thoughts and emotions than we deemed comfortable.

Allison Jimenez, head of the Suicide Prevention Program at the Hanley Foundation in West Palm Beach, Florida, believes that there are multiple things responsible for the rise in suicide numbers.

“I think this highlight wheel that we have everything, has to be a certain way, we have to look a certain way, we have to accomplish a certain amount of things at a certain age,” Jimenez said. “I think those pressures have increased, and not only that, but I think school, the workloads, the shutdown, people are still rebounding from that,” she states.

Her son Elijah Tejeda, 16, says, “I’m glad that it’s getting the recognition it needs because it’s a real underlying issue that not a lot of people notice.”

Although this time period was challenging, it opened up the conversation about mental wellness and the importance of exercising our minds. And, it has become a more referred-to topic of conversation among artists in their work.

Mental Wellness Through Music

Thomas Orlina, Mental Health Advocate, Singer, Songwriter, and Producer, dedicated his most recent single to Teen Mental Wellness Day. He says, “When people watch this new video, I hope they get inspired to release themselves from anything that isn’t good for them anymore and to prioritize their mental health.” 

With his single, “This Time”, he also released the music video which he revealed to be his most personal music video yet.

After going through therapy himself, he found passion and drive to develop a project intended for Teen Mental Wellness Day. This was his way of connecting with his audience who might also battle moments of distraught and normalizing seeking professional guidance.