Mental health de-stigmatization taken too far

Molly St. Clair , Editor-in-Chief

From celebrities sharing their struggles on social media to the large presence of mental health awareness material in schools, it’s hard to escape the topic of our mental well-being in today’s society. It’s safe to say that mental health has been destigmatized, at least for younger generations. But, how much is too much? 

When speaking with other students and while scrolling on social media, I’ve found that there’s this competitive nature when discussing mental health. Who has it worse? Who is struggling the most? 

This narrative silences those who don’t feel comfortable outwardly talking about their mental health struggles. Not only this, but it also invalidates those who don’t necessarily have a diagnosis. Mental health is something everyone deals with and it is unhealthy to categorize people based on the severity of their mental struggles, regardless of a diagnosis. 

A related issue that has arisen from destigmatizing mental health is the way teenagers speak about the topic. A phrase I hear upwards of 5 times a day from my friends and classmates in person and on social media is “I am going to kill myself”,  abbreviated to “kms”. For many teens, it has become the go-to phrase to describe a small inconvenience in life. Normally perceived as a joke, the phrase is rarely taken seriously. Rather it is thrown around without much thought of its true meaning. 

Saying “I’m going to kill myself” has an obvious meaning of suicidal behavior, but the newfound casual nature of discussing mental health has made many teenagers forget what they’re actually saying. 

The deeper problem is the blurred line between what is a joke and what is reality. If someone were to post something on social media saying “I’m gonna kms”, many might simply look past it. They might think that since people say it all the time, it holds no true weight. In reality, it could be a cry for help. 

I am still appreciative of the ability to freely talk about mental health. It is much easier to discuss things like anxiety and depression in 2023 than it was 20 years ago and I recognize how that is incredibly valuable. But it is also valuable to know how to correctly talk about mental health with others. With a recent uprise in teen suicide, being cautious and thinking about what you say is more important now than ever. 

Teenage slang is always going to come and go. Terms like “wicked”. , “groovy”, and “gag me with a spoon” are all reminiscent of the jargon of young people throughout the years. It would be a shame if this dark, suicidal phrase is what defines Gen-Z youth slang.