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Molly McCarthy '(18) showing off her college insignia on Decision Day

Molly McCarthy '(18) showing off her college insignia on Decision Day

Ms. Pflaumer

Ms. Pflaumer

Molly McCarthy '(18) showing off her college insignia on Decision Day

Rachel Barrett, Contributor

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month and it is about time some light is shed on this very important, yet often neglected, topic.  But, mental illness often has a social stigma behind it. Because the topic is not openly discussed, people struggling with mental illness often find it hard to seek out the help they need.  

When one feels stigmatized by society, it is difficult to rise above it. But with awareness and education, social stigmas can be eliminated.

According to the article Mental Health by the Numbers, published online by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately 1 in 5 (18.5%) adults in the U.S. experience mental illness in a given year. Mood disorders, including major depression, dysthymic disorder, and bipolar disorder, are the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youth people and adults, aged 18–44.  And 90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness; suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.  

But, mental illness often has a social stigma behind it.”

— Rachel Barrett

But as difficult a topic such as mental illness can be to discuss, people like Abington High’s Molly McCarthy (’18) openly discusses it. She helps spread positivity and hope to others with regards to the topic.  

In June of her sophomore year, McCarthy says she began “acting out of character.” She was pessimistic and she says she “gradually became more and more uninvolved and distant” from her friends and family. Finally, in March of her junior year, McCarthy realized she needed help.  

After being diagnosed with severe generalized anxiety and depression, she began going to a counselor and taking antidepressants. She finally started to see a change in her life, and her mental health started to improve.  

In September of 2017, the start of her senior year, McCarthy created a blog she called Safer Souls with the intention of it being a resource for teens who went through something like what she went through, knowing all too well the struggle of mental illness.  

McCarthy has used this site to share the stories of those too afraid to share them themselves. McCarthy says it is also to “provide a sense of comfort in knowing that there are other people who have experienced what you may be enduring.” She wants people to know they “are NOT alone.”

Also through her site Safer Souls, McCarthy says she has learned that she too is “not alone.” She also knows that there is always another person who can relate to her, “helping through the hard times.”

McCarthy is just one example of a high school student who deals with these kinds of things and shows us that this is depression and anxiety are very real. They are not just something that happens on TV.

McCarthy’s courage and willingness to be open about her struggles is inspiring. She uses her experiences and what she has gone through to help others who may not know how to get help, or don’t know how to deal with what they are going through. She has taken her pain and turned it into a resource that helps kids dealing with their own battles, which is commendable.  

For anyone struggling with mental illness, always know that no matter how bad it may seem, it will always get better. The rain always comes before the rainbow.

In school, guidance counselors, the school psychologist, and the nurse are safe places you can go. Teachers are also available to direct you to help. Outside of school, there are several resources for mental health, some links are provided on McCarthy’s blog Safer Souls.

More information on mental health:

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