Few people can spot it, and even fewer can understand it.

It is a hidden, heartbreaking epidemic that youths know only too well, and too young, which has left parents, friends, faculty members and medical providers scrambling to comprehend and address. It knows no race, religion, class, or geographic location. If you know anyone aged 13 to 25, chances are that if they’re not dealing with mental health issues themselves, they know someone who is – or more likely, many someones.

Mental health issues in the young have burgeoned in the last decade, leading parents and specialists to question the cause. It seems so many of today’s young people suffer anxiety and depression, two sides of the same coin, that it leads families and doctors to wonder what, in this age of increased quality of life, has become so troubling.

For many, anxiety and depression are the end products of a culture that has become overwhelming with 24/7 news cycles and social media dictating reality instead of the other way around. For youths with limited experience, it feels as if there is never a break and no way to keep up.

The Independent applauds the work of numerous local and national organizations and foundations striving to get ahead of the curve and by providing much-needed demystification of mental-health issues. Awareness is the first step – a hard step for parents and educators evaluating whether a youth is just going through a stage, or seriously struggling and in need of help. The Pleasanton Z-Cares Foundation event on March 6and 7 for teens and adults is dedicated to navigating youth anxiety. It promises to provide a light for youth living in the darkness of anxiety.