NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - Today's teens have a lot on their plates and on their minds. Mental health is a top concern. In fact, 70 percent of teens say depression and anxiety are major problems among their peers, according to Pew Research, even more so than bullying, drugs or alcohol.
"I became really depressed because I was lonely—I was just coming to terms with my sexuality," Anthony Hernandez, now an adult pursuing a Ph.D. at Harvard University, told Fox 5 about the stress of his teenage years in the Bronx.
His mother was ill and the family struggled financially.
"It was mostly feeling alienated because I didn't have anyone to turn to," he said.
But a school counselor would turn out to be a savior of sorts, pointing him to Mount Sinai's adolescent health center for free therapy and visits with a psychiatrist.
"To be an adolescent in this generation or any generation, it's really, really hard," Dr. Lindsay Gerber, a clinical psychologist at Mount Sinai, said. "There's a lot of hormonal changes, there's a lot of social changes, there's a lot of expectations."
This generation also has social media, which can help people connect but can also fuel unhealthy comparisons and cyberbullying.
Social media also gives kids this unrealistic, idealistic platform to compare themselves to others, which can lead to lower self-esteem," Gerber said.
On the positive side, Gerber said there is less stigma around mental health issues.
"I think kids are also talking more about mental health more than they have in the past," she said.
Talking to someone if you're struggling is most important.
"Having one person in your life, whether it's a parent, just one protective adult who can talk with you and talk through things, is a really big protective factor against depression," Gerber said.