Town Square

Post a New Topic

Opinion: An open letter to students on mental health

Original post made on May 20, 2023

My whole life I've struggled with depression, anxiety and, at my lowest, suicidal ideation. Ultimately I found someone who helped me through it. Now I, and others like me, are doing our best to be there for teens who are struggling.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, May 20, 2023, 10:32 AM

Comments (8)

Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 21, 2023 at 11:26 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

When our youth see PAUSD HS parents attempting to bully Foothill College and our our public Hs campus into teaching a college course in calculus class at thier convince is cause for pause. When our youth see, encounter, read about every 5th resident of our community struggling for a decent wage and a permanent, safe, quality, affordable roof over head — yes. Our youth need many safety nets. When even getting a wuality skate park, or a good teenage venue to play live music is improbable. When Junior Museum starts charging money to enter or kids are harassed at T&C by “security” for eating lunch together in a group. When our youth are surveilled by cameras and social media or beaten up by intoxicated 30 year-olds are thrown over on bikes & robbed crossing Embarcadero at 2pm ... when our youth were stripped of their time to grow, develop together or as individuals because of a Pandemic... when our youth cannot access in person mental health and are forced to yet again go on Zoom for services or commute to Milpedias or Oakland or Roseville... yet our CC, County, State Assembly, State Governor yap about the critical support for our youth — is not there. Hello Stanford. Where are you u?? High up in the above air new hospital for who??? I ask Stanford to offer a new course. Stanford reverse-engineering. Reverse the course that engineers have destroyed since WWII. Reverse the massive fast paced trajectory of AI that is overwhelming the humane genome. Our youth are even more deprived of their importance to a future than post WWII . I am strictly forbidding my children from anything that smells of sensory deprivation computer engineering. Yes build bridges to transport humans, goods, water, minerals, life — not data!! Data driven economies is killing our our children and all living creatures !!

Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 21, 2023 at 11:34 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

[Post removed; successive comments by same poster are not permitted.]

Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 22, 2023 at 1:50 am

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

[Post removed; successive comments by same poster are not permitted.]

Posted by Mavis Templeton
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 22, 2023 at 7:38 am

Mavis Templeton is a registered user.

Advances in technology have contributed to these adverse mental health issues.

We have lost touch with humanity because in many instances, technology has replaced direct human interactions via social media, robotics, and AI (ChatGPT).

There have always been cases of depression among adults and youth but today it is exacerbated with the advancing dehumanization of society.

Defining and reaffirming one's self-identity has also become a controversial issue as it has gone beyond personal philosophical contemplations of one's place in the universe towards personally-crafted gender identities and personas.

Given these modern-day developments, there is no going back to yesteryear and mental health problems and issues will only get worse.

Posted by Retired PAUSD Teacher
a resident of another community
on May 22, 2023 at 11:02 am

Retired PAUSD Teacher is a registered user.

In addition, to the great list of ideas provided by the author, my advice is to try to seek healthy ways to release stress. Non-competitive ways if necessary. You don't have to play competitive sports to enjoy the fun of some traditional outdoor games or pursuits. Having something simple but fun to look forward to on a regular basis, in my opinion, is a big help.

As someone who has struggled before, I know having a good listener really helps. A neutral one can be better at times for sure because there is no judgement. Real friends don't judge either. Talk to friends you trust if they are available. In addition, there can be family members who are more open minded than others. If so, I think it is fine to approach them too.

Screen time is just a fact, but you can limit that time. If you walk away from a site/platform feeling worse than when you went in, then I would steer clear of it in the future.

I hope others offer advice too. I only know what has worked for me, and it is a combination of all of the above.

Great advice I got from a neutral source: "Compare yourself to yourself".

Posted by Jon Keeling
a resident of Midtown
on May 22, 2023 at 11:18 am

Jon Keeling is a registered user.

Very good opinion piece! And I share the vast majority of those opinions! :-)

As many readers are already aware, I have been dealing with this topic head-on for many years, including working with Marc Vincenti on the "Save the 2008" push (which he eventually gave up on in frustration), extensively volunteering with Social-Emotional Learning programs, offering to set up and run a mentoring program for PA students as a volunteer, speaking with many teens and parents to provide support and guidance...

One thing I want to make clear to teenagers and that I spoke about in a presentation I made at the Teen Wellness Retreat in MV last year: "Mental Health" includes "Emotional Health" and I prefer to separate out the terms. If you are struggling with your emotions - feeling anxious, frustrated, along - please do not think that there is something "wrong" with you. There are some serious mental illnesses out there. But feeling overwhelmed is not a mental illness!

For any parents or community members wanting to make a difference, please do contact Dave and/or me to see what you can do to help. I am hosting a fundraiser for ChallengeDay at my home in Soquel on June 4, for those who would like more information about that group that can be a huge help with this problem.

Dave- I completed your form. Please reach out to me directly to strategize.

Posted by KJH
a resident of another community
on May 23, 2023 at 2:34 pm

KJH is a registered user.

Thank you, Dave Cortright, for a very powerful piece. Extremely important stuff and so well presented.

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 23, 2023 at 4:45 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

I am no expert, but I have had teens who grew up here. Fortunately they are now all adults, but they do have a lot to say about their experience in high school and even middle school.

To cut a long story short, the big problem is that they were competing all the time against their cohorts. Whether it was for a place on a team or a hard to come by A from a teacher who proudly states very few students get As, everything they did in school and sport was competitive. There were times they just wanted to be able to hang out with friends in a non-competitive environment, but school did not provide such hang out time. Even lunch time became a challenge of sorts.

What is needed here is some old fashioned youth activities and hang outs. Youth clubs, malt shops (????) or similar where they can hang out after school without being classed as trouble makers. Summer is coming soon, yet we don't have teen hang outs. A group of teens hanging out in various places are more likely to be regarded as suspicious rather than just being teens.

Palo Alto must start prioritizing teens rather than ignoring them.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Palo Alto Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Analysis/paralysis: The infamous ‘Palo Alto Process’ must go
By Diana Diamond | 1 comment | 1,611 views

The Time and Cost Savings of Avoiding a Long Commute
By Steve Levy | 5 comments | 1,279 views

Common Ground
By Sherry Listgarten | 2 comments | 1,249 views

Planting a Fall Garden?
By Laura Stec | 3 comments | 607 views


Sign-up now for 5K Run/Walk, 10k Run, Half Marathon

The 39th annual Moonlight Run and Walk is Friday evening, September 29. Join us under the light of the full Harvest Moon on a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon. Complete your race in person or virtually. Proceeds from the race go to the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund, benefiting local nonprofits that serve families and children in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties.