BLOG: MTV Movement’s Olly Tripodi talks mental health
Over the course of this year, I’ve had the real privilege to weigh in on a whole lot of issues that affect young people through my blogs and segment on MTV. I’ve talked about climate change, religion, politics, sex, values and families to name just a few of the issues I have touched on. And despite the diversity of issues I am covering, I’ve consistently found that there are identifiable themes that link young people together across the polemic divide.
We’re a generation that is incredibly open. We share (and occasionally over-share) through social media and use technology to keep in touch. We wear our heart on our sleeve, look for debate and dialogue and constantly seek to expose ourselves to new ideas. There is none of the political stoicism of our parent’s generation in our conversations – we will tell you what we think.
But this openness stops just short of the waters edge when it comes to mental health and young people. Though a lot of good work has been done in the past twenty years to reduce the stigma associated with young people experiencing mental health related issues, only one quarter of young people (according to Headspace) actually get the professional help that they need.
That statistic should really flaw us. If I were to tell you that only a one quarter of individuals with skin cancer or Pneumonia were getting medical help, you’d think it’s an emergency. Well, it is. Suicide is the leading cause of the death for Australians aged 15-24 (according to Black Dog Institute).
These statistics are sobering to say the least. Until I sat down to write this piece, I had absolutely no idea how vast the problem is. The good news is that all of the evidence available says that there is a link between early intervention and early treatment, and better outcomes for young people. In short, getting the help early is key.
There’s been lots of speculation around rising rates of mental health issues in young people. In particular, the rates of youth depression are on a pretty sharp rise – and no one knows definitively why. Certainly changes in reporting procedures could make it seem as though more young people have depression, when in fact it’s that more young people are seeking help. And that’d be a good thing.
Something that I have noticed in my own life is the sometimes insidious addition of social media in to our lives. For many (me included) social media is a supplement to a social life, a place for organising, connecting and sharing. But for many, I feel that social media may have replaced elements of a real social life with a world of superficiality. On Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, people naturally tend to share the best parts of their lives, which can make you feel like you’re constantly missing out. And that feeling of exclusion from fun, connectivity and joy doesn’t buoy young people who might be going through a rough trot.
Similarly, I really feel that people who over share the positives in their lives on social media may be diminishing their right to sometimes feel flat, or tired or introverted. And when we diminish or ostracize our ability to feel negative emotions, we simultaneously diminish their importance. The pursuit of happiness is wonderful, but not at the expense of ignoring what we might really be feeling.
I was proud of my good friend Nick Bracks this week, who has recently launched a blog about mental health for ‘En Masse’, which does a lot of good work to promote mental health and well-being. After Nick was involved in a very high profile car accident a few years ago, Nick sought help for depression. He got back on his feet pretty quickly, and has since become one of the foremost youth voices to advocate for mental health with Beyond Blue and Headspace.
Nick has always said that early intervention is key, and that a simple question like ‘How are you’? can be the cataclysm for someone to seek help. In short, early intervention is key. Look out for your friends, and look out for yourself.
If you have been feeling unwell or are experiencing upsetting or troubling symptoms, you can speak to your GP.