Lance Stratos is a 16 year old male who has a huge love for neuroscience and culinary, both of which came from his caring mother Heather Stratos. He also loves hanging with friends at school and playing video games. He goes to Golden Eagle Charter School.

Mental health is something everyone is taught from a young age to take care of, yet sometimes life gets too hard to keep our mental health in stable condition. The people who suffer from this are often times teens. A common stereotype about teenagers is that we are lazy, on our phones too much, and even just depressed for no reason--but there is a reason. The University of Michigan conducted a study called Monitoring the Future on 1.4 million teens since the 1970s, which showed that even the kids who went outside and were doing well in school still showed symptoms of depression. Teenagers have had depression since before touch screen phones even existed; they’ve had these symptoms since being a teen became a thing. So instead of focusing on the ‘Why this is happening,’ why don’t we focus on the ‘How can we help?’ Depression is an important topic, and here is why you should care.

An article in “Psychology Today” called “Why So Many Teens Today Have Become Depressed” discussed teens who said they were “experiencing symptoms of depression – feeling hopeless, not enjoying life, believing they can’t do anything right. Depressive symptoms continued to increase over the next few years, making today's teens ... significantly more depressed than teens just a few years before” (Jean M. Twenge, Ph.D.). This study shows that each generation is going to have worse depression than the generation before them. Therefore, is there any way to stop a teen from being depressed?

Rural isolation can make this situation even more complicated. This population often doesn’t get the funding for the resources needed. For example, transportation is another big problem affected by rural isolation. Because the therapy clinics are so far away from the residential areas, the walk to the clinics can be far and unpleasant. Rural areas also make it harder to have confidentiality because everyone can see what everyone is doing.

Additionally, confidentiality can be hard because everyone knows your face and name. What if you don’t want your family or friends finding out you’re in therapy? This problem might seem small, but in reality can cause harm to the person trying to get into therapy, especially if the kid is already in a dangerous situation; having family know could mean life or death sometimes.

Finding funding for these services is hard, especially when a common thought in the community is “We don’t need that.” The reason some people might think we don’t need these services is because in Yreka alone we have two therapy clinics, Behavioral Health and Remi Vista. Even though both of these places are amazing and work hard to help people, Behavioral Health will only take severe cases and Remi Vista has only a small handful of therapists. Parents are also under the assumption that their teen’s school counselor can help. However, these counselors are mostly there for academic guidance and are not therapists.

So how are these teens going to get the help they need? One way we can actually help is to get easier access to therapists for teenagers, whether they want family to find out or not. This includes putting more than one therapist at schools, raising funding for another psychology clinic that’s easier for teens to check into, or even expanding Remi Vista to hire more therapists. We need to make a change now while the kids who are still here and struggling can get the help they want and need.