Overcoming the American Struggle

The Creed of American's is the struggle that they endure and then overcome. In our nation there's multiple roadblocks to success, such as struggle to afford education and mental health issues. Overcoming these struggles proves the strength and drive of Americans.

By Quinn T. from Royal Oak High School in Michigan

The struggles Americans endure throughout their lives will take a toll on their mental health. This stress comes in many forms and can be induced through work, school, or trying to financially support yourself and loved ones. Providing an outlet for all Americans to receive help, such as therapy, is essential. One study implemented by NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness) states, “1 in 5 adults in America experience a mental illness” and “Nearly 1 in 25 (10 million) adults in America live with a serious mental illness.” This study clearly demonstrates the widespread commonality of mental illness and helps reach out and crush the stigma many of these people face. Many sufferers of mental illness feel alone and ashamed. As a community we should recognize and support anyone who struggles, regardless of why. For individuals to overcome their mental battles, it is important to reach out and receive help. Although this is important, the NAMI study also states, “Nearly 60% of adults with a mental illness didn’t receive mental health services in the previous year.” This study goes on to insinuate that financial struggle was a big reason why many do not seek help. American people - regardless of race, sex, religion, income or otherwise - should be granted complete support of their mental illness. I have witnessed firsthand the struggle with mental health and believe a nation should provide its people with the benefits they deserve.

Similar to the financial struggle of affording mental health, not being able to afford higher education is also becoming a serious struggle among American people. If our population can’t afford to learn the skills they need to succeed, we won’t be able to grow as a nation. It seems we’ve created a higher education system of privilege, which is unfair to those of lower and middle class income. As shown in a survey done by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, "Among respondents who have some college or a certificate, the median outstanding education debt is $8,000;", comparing to, "the median debt for respondents with a master's degree is $36,000 and for those with a professional degree or a doctoral degree it is $100,000." This shows the standard our economic and educational system has for those who will succeed. Only those with the financial availability will have the opportunity to pursue an occupation requiring extensive higher education.

Our higher education systems and mental health issues are more interwoven than we realize. With the independence an individual has in college, they're not monitored or even sometimes communicated with. In addition, the financial burden of college can become overwhelming. This can cause a sense of loneliness or helplessness which ultimately leads to falling onto the wrong path. From a study done by the NAMI, on students at Chadron State College stated, “Almost 73 percent of students living with a mental health condition experienced a mental health crisis on campus. Yet, 34.2 percent reported that their college did not know about their crisis.” This one study shows how oblivious campuses can be of their students concerns and safety. Providing an outlet where students can seek help without judgement or financial burden is essential to acceptance and insight with mental health. Implementing psychological resources on college campuses can provide students with a level of comfort to speak up about what they’re experiencing inside. In many cases it can even save lives. The rate of suicide among college students is only increasing due to stress higher education causes. In an article published by Fox News, and by Emilie Ikeda, it stated “Suicide rates have continued to climb in the U.S. – it is now the second leading cause of death among people ages 10-34, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.” Being able to speak freely about mental health and spreading awareness can release stigma behind this terrible burden. As mental health issues continue to grow on college campuses, creating available resources needs to be immediate. Whether it's affordable and accessible counseling or classes that teach coping skills, more needs to be done for those who struggle with anxiety and/or depression. It's important to recognize the harm that stress and pressure is doing to students. Without any release, a temporary solution of suicide can become permanent.

Two things are guaranteed in the next year for both the educational system and mental health system. The price of higher education will increase, and the amount of those affected by mental illnesses will increase. Knowing this, we must adapt and adjust to these two crises. Supporting mental health and those suffering through it can provide awareness as well as encouragement to those battling their internal self. Even the seemingly simple act of listening to a fellow peer could make their day. Or even better, it could save their life.

The bottom line is, no one knows what anyone else is experiencing until they experience it themselves. Being able to relate and communicate with those who need it can bring up those around you, and yourself as well. The way we support one another should be no different in the educational sense. Counseling services that allow youth to talk about stress surrounding mental health and financial burden are just a start. In order for all of us to succeed, we must help those around us in any capacity.  

Royal Oak High School

AP Lang 2019

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Writing Our Future: American Creed is part of the National Writing Project’s family of youth publishing projects, all gathered under the Writing Our Future initiative.

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