Ayisat Bisiriyu, 14, wants to raise awareness and open discussion surrounding mental health issues that can affect teenagers. (Photo by Maranie R. Staab/PublicSource)

Mental illness and teens: It’s hard to tell who is joking and who is crying for help. What’s my responsibility?

Editor’s note: At PublicSource, we believe in giving a platform to voices not often heard or consulted. That's why we asked teenagers in the Pittsburgh region to tell us what matters to them and write about it. We will feature their stories as an occasional series. The nation’s conversation about mental illness and school shootings has changed the way I listen to my classmates. It’s changed the way I read and everything I watch.

Hannah Watkins is a 16-year-old in the 11th grade at Woodland Hills High School. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

My family left Wilkinsburg. But it’s still our community, and I hope it flourishes.

Just like many other communities, Wilkinsburg has its issues and things that need to change. When we put our minds and ideas together, I do not doubt for a second that Wilkinsburg can become a better place — a safer and cleaner community where kids can continue to play games in their yards and parents don’t have to worry about stray bullets or loose dogs. Because they will know Wilkinsburg is a better place.

Gentrification has had an impact on East Liberty, writes 16-year-old Jeremiah Davis, and such changes to the neighborhood shouldn't always mean displacement of residents. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

What’s left when the gentrifiers come marching in

When I was in elementary school, many houses in my neighborhood of North Point Breeze sat empty. There were abandoned homes right behind the one I lived in, and instead of being unhappy that they weren’t filled with families and kids my age, I always appreciated the quietness and privacy that they brought.