Talented songstress takes aim at today’s mental health issues

‘Thando’ has a message in her music

Cory Alexander Haywood OW Contributor | 10/18/2018, midnight
It’s a global phenomenon with the potential to get much worse unless physicians and health..

"I’m naturally a very anxious person," she confessed with a chuckle. "That anxiety manifests in ugly ways that have jeopardized opportunities I’ve had for professional development or relationships. When I sat down to write ‘Happy,’ it came out of a period where I was panicking that I wouldn’t be able to follow up the single that had just released and was doing quite well in Australia at the time. But as I began to write, all of my worries and fears about failure ended up on a piece of paper."

According to recent studies, Thando isn’t alone. The debilitating feeling of anxiety is a challenge that terrorizes millions of young people daily. One in every four to five youth in the general population reportedly meet criteria for a lifetime mental disorder that is associated with severe role impairment and/or distress (11.2 percent with mood disorders, 8.3 percent with anxiety disorders, and 9.6 percent behavior disorders).

A national and international literature review found that an average of 17 percent of young people experience an emotional, mental, or behavioral disorder.

Substance abuse or dependence was the most commonly diagnosed group for young people, followed by anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The rate of serious mental illness was higher for 18- to 25-year-olds (7.4 percent) in 2008 than for any other age group over 18 years.

In addition, the onset for 50 percent of adult mental health disorders occurs by age 14, and for 75 percent of adults by age 24.

In 2015, 8.1 percent of youth ages 12 to 17 years and 8.7 percent of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 years had at least one depressive episode. In addition, six percent of 12- to 17-year-olds and 5.4 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds had at least one major depressive episode with severe impairment. 

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 10 and 24 years, resulting in 4,513 deaths in 2017. Further, in a survey of private and public high school students:

-13.8 percent reported that they had seriously considered attempting suicide;

-10.9 percent had made a plan for how they would attempt suicide;

-6.3 percent reported that they had attempted suicide one or more times within the past year, and

-1.9 percent had made a suicide attempt that resulted in an injury, poisoning, or an overdose that had to be treated by a doctor or nurse.

Studies also show that youth from low-income households are at increased risk for mental health disorders. Twenty-one percent of low-income children and youth ages 6 to 17 years have mental health disorders. Fifty-seven percent of these low-income children and youth come from households with incomes at or below the federal poverty level.

Contrastingly, 31 percent of White children and youth receive mental health services compared to 13 percent of children of color.

As these numbers continue to climb in a world ravished by social and political strife, one of Thando’s aspirations is to empower her listeners with lyrics dedicated to self-love and healing.