Today is a very special Tuesday for the Poisoned Pencil. It is the publication date for Disconnected, a young adult mystery by Lisa M. Cronkhite. This wildly original book is a walk through the mind of a seventeen-year-old who suffers in silence from mental illness, and her search for the answers to the mysteries–both real and psychological–that shape her life. This week and next, Lisa will share some of her thoughts on mental illness in teens here at the Pencil blog.

Lisa! You have the floor!

According to the NIMH, just over 20 percent (or 1 in 5) children, either currently or at some point during their lives, have had a seriously debilitating mental disorder (National Institute of Mental Health, 2010). So, say there are about 25 kids or so in your classroom. That means at least 5 of those kids are suffering from a mental illness. Anyone with math skills can easily figure out that mental illness is a common problem.

Unfortunately, depression and mental illness have been on the rise since I was a teen. In those days there were no cell phones or internet. But all that has changed today, and teens seem to spend their lives texting and browsing the net. Today’s kids are vulnerable to cyber bullying and never know who they can trust online. Even kids with good mental health to start with can be driven to depression and even to the point of suicide.

However, if you are a teen suffering from mental illness, regardless of whether you are being bullied or not, you can use the internet to your advantage. By educating yourself about mental illness, you will be able to play an active part in keeping yourself healthy. Having the knowledge and the know-how is crucial to maintaining your health.

Having a support system is just as important. Nowadays, there are online support groups that you can visit anonymously without being bullied or having to talk to someone face-to-face. For example, HealthyPlace.com offers protected forums where you can talk freely about your issues and find tons of information on mental health.

The first step to dealing with your mental illness is educating yourself, and knowing you are not alone.

To learn more please visit my blog.