Anna Quindlen

Start Free Trial

What is the main theme of "The C Word in the Hallways" by Anna Quindlen?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In this essay, Quindlen writes about the way in which psychological distress among children and teenagers is shunted to the shadows because of ignorance and shame. Many teens with serious mental health disorders do not get the help they need because their parents and other people around them feel that mental disorders are considered shameful. In addition, the adults in their lives do not always understand mental disorders and how to treat them. Quindlen argues that mental health should be treated in the same way that physical health is treated. For example, she states that mental health treatment can save lives, just as vaccinations can. She speaks about the ways in which mental health issues are treated punitively, which shows a complete misunderstanding of why mentally ill teenagers are behaving the way they do. If people were less ignorant about mental health, they would get teens the help they need, before causing them harm or allowing them to harm themselves or others.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This is an essay about the need for more attention to kids' mental health in the United States.  It talks about how many teens (and younger) are doing horrible things like school shootings because (in the author's opinion) they are mentally ill.

Qunidlen argues in this essay that the US would be a better place if more children were diagnosed as needing psychological or psychiatric care.  She says that we are too inclined to think that problems like the ones these kids have are character flaws rather than true illnesses.  Because of that, we tend to treat the kids as if they need to just get their acts together and reform themselves instead of getting them the treatment they need.

Because we have this blind spot, we end up sacrificing lives (those killed by mentally ill teens and the the teens themselves) and money (incarcerating teens who have killed) for no good reason.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial