Though I’ve always dealt with mental health issues, 2020 and now 2021 have put a major strain on my mental well-being. And although I’d been looking for a therapist for six months, I wasn’t able to find one.
A Tipping Point
Throughout 2020, I was on the front lines of activism, working on major projects and attending protests to raise awareness about social injustice. More people have become aware of the injustice that happens every day in the world around them. We’ve learned more about our corrupt systems of power and injustice in the United States, and have seen firsthand how our system is failing us, like with the unsatisfying conclusions to the Breonna Taylor trial. Some may even feel helpless, like I do, because they don’t see change happening anytime soon. The tragic deaths of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant, 13-year-old Adam Toledo, and 19-year-old Daunte Wright due to police brutality over the last month was my tipping point.
On top of these social-justice traumas, learning digitally has also put a tremendous strain on my mental health. The experience I’ve had throughout the past year with my large academic workload has made me realize that our society doesn’t often prioritize children’s mental health. I’ve noticed that my school district hasn’t made attempts to give students mental or emotional support during these times. I’ll be moving across the country for college by the end of this year, and I’m struggling to keep myself afloat because I have not gotten mental health support.
Access to Help
Finding an available therapist is so much harder than I ever thought it could be. For many years I’ve heard that access to mental treatment was limited, but I never truly understood until I became the one suffering and in need of help. Accessibility to mental help has become increasingly difficult, and people are suffering as a result.
In order to find the mental help I need, I’ve searched online for a therapist; I’ve gone through my insurance to find therapists in my area; I’ve even asked those around me for recommendations. However, most of my attempts have made me find therapists that were far too expensive, don’t take my insurance, or not nearly close enough to the area that I live. Other attempts have gotten me close to finding help, like attempting to use my sister’s therapist, but they were so booked with clients that they didn’t have the space to take me on as a patient.
Encountering all of these roadblocks have made me incredibly discouraged, believing that I might never find the help I need. It’s also been mortifying to continuously pour my heart out to so many people, only to be turned away.
I’ve been withstanding these struggles by finding other ways to help myself despite these hurdles, including taking on yoga and meditation in order to ease my mind and not be consumed by my anxieties. I’ve also taken on several hobbies to distract myself in the meantime, like skateboarding and songwriting. Though these methods are working thus far and preventing me from spiraling, I know these are only temporary solutions to my bigger issue of mental anguish.
While writing this article I was finally able to receive treatment, thanks to a wonderful support system. After I reached out to one of the VOX ATL adult staff members asking for help, they connected me to a counseling nonprofit called CHRIS 180. The people at CHRIS 180 have been incredibly attentive and helpful.
I hope that others in a similar situation are able to find the help they need in therapy or psychiatry. Apparently, 41% of Georgia youth ages, 3-17, are suffering from mental illness without anyone to talk to. With the knowledge that others like me continue to struggle to gain access to mental health treatment, I want there to be more clear, and accessible routes to find mental help for those who need it.
Georgia Crisis & Access Line (GCAL) is 800-715-4225.
Teens can download the My GCAL app for texting support 24/7/365 and the notOK app, developed by Atlanta area teens.