Shining a light on youth mental health needs

Posted at 5:47 PM, Nov 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-09 19:47:20-05

BOZEMAN — Across the United States, one in five adults struggles with mental illness. One in six young people aged six to 17 struggle with mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. For Amanda "Mandi" Carver, she turned that part of her life into a learning moment.

"I spent my 16th Birthday in Shodair, which is where no one wants to spend their 16th birthday,” said Carver.

For close to two years, Carver kept this part of her to herself—that was until her senior year when she told her story at a school assembly.

“ I tend to feel ashamed of the things that I have been going through; mental health is so stigmatized in teens and young adults,” said Carver.

Carver is not alone in her battle. Montana has the third-highest suicide rate across the country, and suicide is the seventh leading cause of death in the state, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

“A lot of people that have struggled silently with it and don't know how to talk about it have also come up to me,” said Carver.

In the years since she's learned techniques she still uses to this day.

"It taught me that while it feels like the world is happening to you, the world is just happening,” Carver said.

Mental illness is commonly missed, but there are sometimes physical signs that can be seemingly unrelated like a change in sleeping habits or even changes in appetites or even more tiredness.

“Check in on your friends, especially if you notice any behavioral changes because that is a sign of mental illness,” said Carver.

Mental health treatment access in Montana for young people ranks among the worst in the country. According to Mental Health America, Montana ranks 45 out of 50 for mental health treatment accessibility for young people.

“Mental health is just as important as physical health. If you're not mentally healthy, you're not going to be physically healthy,” Carver said.

Carver says that the help she's received has helped her to get where she is now.

“There are resources and options for people to go, places for parents to go, places for kids to go. There are places that are equipped,” said Carver. “Don't be scared to reach out.”

If you or a loved one are in need of help, the resources below can help:

National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Montana Hotline: Text MT to 741 741