#3 Talk About It

For my third blog post I started really digging into the numbers and statistics about my issue, the stigmas about youth depression and suicide. What I found about my topic, and the broader topic of youth depression and suicide, was quite unsettling. First I looked at an article put out by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, called the Behavioral Health Barometer for Vermont 2015. It showed some shocking statistics. In 2010-2011 7.5% Vermont adolescents between the ages of 12-17 admitted to having a MDE (Major Depressive Episode) that year. This was around a national average of 8.1%. However that number has consistently rose since 2010-2011, and at the latest year recorded from that article (2013-2014) that percentage had risen to 11%, exactly the same as an 11% national percentage. Rising about a percent year, I don’t know if this trend is a positive one or a negative one. This could be evidence that youth in our society are suffering from depression much more often, because of new cultures and ways of treatment. Or this could be something which I hope, and I think is much more likely. That is that youth are becoming more comfortable to share their depression. However the next statistic on that article bought my initial happiness down quite a bit. Throughout 2010-2014 when asked if they received medical treatment for their depression, only 49.5% did receive treatment. The article mentions that in 2013-2014, that 11% of youth in Vermont who admitted to having an MDE that year number, is around 5,000 children. That means that 2,500 youth haven’t gotten medical treatment for their depression. That number is quite scary, that’s a possible 2,500 lives were talking about. However in the nation, that percentage of youth who got medical treatment for their depression was a shockingly low 38.6%. I believe one of the main problems I’m going to focus on with this issue, is why youth are afraid to get medical help. This issue seems like it has at it’s most basic description two predominant groups in the conflict. There is aways someone suffering from depression and/or suicidal thoughts, and someone who can help. The issues come from both sides. Youth don’t always feel comfortable sharing their depression, as   Ann Donahue, a state legislator from Northfield said in an interview with Jane Lindholm for Vermont Edition about stigmas against mental health, “The day that nobody thinks that it’s any braver to talk about your mental illness than having a broken leg, is the day we’ll have overcome stigma.” I agree with this statement for the most part, I agree that the main issue for children to not admit that they suffer from depression is they don’t see it as an affliction. One of our most engrained stigma’s about depression is that it’s something to be ashamed of, which is simply not true. However the problems can come from the other side as well. A lot of the times when adolescents admit to suffering from depression, it’s not to an adult or family member it’s to extremely close friends. It’s very important that if someone learns another human being is suffering from depression, you find a way to let an influential adult in that person’s life know. These two issues both stem from a lack of vocalizing problems, a habit that all humans suffer from that goes for all issues. But we need more education, we need to teach children in Vermont, and the rest of the country that it’s extremely important to reach out to communicate how you are feeling, and let an influential adult know if you are suffering from depression. What I’m trying to say, is that children need to feel comfortable talking. This brings up many new questions for me. Why is Vermont so far ahead of the rest of the country in having children get treated for depression? Why are youth now vocalizing their depression more? What are we doing right, and how can we apply that even further?



*Note about this citation, Neither Easybib or Citation Machine would let me cite the article for some reason, so here’s the main website the article is called Behavioral Health Barometer Vermont 2015.

“SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.” SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 13 Sept. 2017, www.samhsa.gov/. Accessed 1 Oct. 2017.


Lindholm, Jane, and Sam G Rosen. “Mental Health Week: Fighting Stigma And Discrimination.” VPR, 21 Mar. 2017, digital.vpr.net/post/mental-health-week-fighting-stigma-and-discrimination#stream/0.


Featured Image is by Ghozt Tramp

Evan McMahan

5 Responses to “#3 Talk About It

  • Colleen
    5 years ago


    I really appreciate how you consider the multiple meanings of a statistic. I like how you dig deeper into what a number could mean or represent. I would also question statistics and surveys; it’s important to look closely at how a study was conducted, how and where they collected participants, and how they present the findings. All these factors can sway how we perceive a number. For that reason, I’m curious if you were able to find other studies done in Vermont about teenagers and depression? It would be interesting to see a variety of numbers. That being said, it seems like you found some great information and are thinking about all the important issues. Why is VT ahead of the rest of the country? How can we be even better? What actions need to be taken in order to improve the stigmas around mental health?

    I like that you’re considering not just the treatment, but also the reporting, of mental health issues. It’s true that adolescence often talk to a friend before an adult. Why is that? Is this an issue for schools or for families to tackle? Have you had the opportunity to talk to health teachers or guidance counselors in your school? I would be really curious to know if education around mental health is a common topic in health classrooms across the state. I know at Mt. Abe it is covered as a unit in the 10th grade health class. Do they do that at your school?

    I love that you’re looking at this from an educational standpoint and can’t wait to read more.


  • I’ve had some personal experiences with emotional and mental instability and have really struggled to be open about them with the people who are supposed to help me. A big part of my own difficulties is that my counselor at school is extremely disrespectful and untrustworthy in mundane situations like scheduling conflicts and recommendation writing so I really can’t go to him when I have personal problems. I have to wonder whether this is a widespread problem in VT and across the country. I think it would be really neat if you looked into the effectiveness of school support systems for mentally ill people!

  • Hi Evan! I really enjoyed this post and the way you incorporated statistics and your interpretation of the statistics into the discussion. It is interesting to see that Vermont has generally lower percentages of youth reporting depression. I wonder if this is because Vermont youth are more hesitant about reporting their depression or if there truly are fewer adolescents who have experienced depression. I also really like the questions you posed at the end of your post. They are very thoughtful and I think they will be very helpful in continuing your research.

  • Hi Phaedra and Colleen! One of the big takeaways that I got from both of your comments was about guidance counselors. Phaedra, I too have had very poor experiences with the guidance counselor at my school. The entire support system at my school seems to operate on a routine which isn’t specific or very helpful. The counselors don’t seem to empathize, but instead sympathize and say the numbers of hotlines over and over again. I think this leaves students without help and there isn’t much variance from case to case just the same routine. I think that changing the way these systems work could also be really helpful to my issue. Thanks, Evan!

  • Thanks Katherine! I agree with your assessment of my statistics, and I too have many questions about the reasons they are what they are. I hope answering these questions will help me with this topic. Thanks, Evan!

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