05/29/2015 12:57 pm ET Updated May 29, 2016

Better Than an Acceptance to Harvard

The din of the coffeehouse diminished into the background as my dear friend whispered the words that described her reason for immense joy.

"My daughter went out to dinner with us last week for the first time in a year.

She actually sat in a restaurant for an hour and ate and laughed and experienced happiness unimpeded by a nagging sense of fear.

It meant more to me than if she'd been accepted to Harvard."

Sarah and I have been meeting regularly since last spring when her youngest child became nearly immobilized by worry and was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. We have laughed and cried over cups of tea during our frequent get-togethers to discuss her teenage daughter's progress. Her beautiful young girl has felt so plagued by panic that she's spent months afraid to leave her home.

Wow. Nothing like getting a little reality check over sips of Darjeeling. As mothers, we often take so much for granted.

My children go to school each day.

My children have friends.

My children go out to dinner with our family.

However, the reality is that not every kid is able to participate in everyday activities. In fact, anxiety disorders afflict about 1 in 10 high school students. Among other symptoms, these teens may have difficulty sleeping, experience an inability to concentrate and refuse to go to school.

Fortunately, quality mental health care can help teens to live happier, productive lives.

For my friend and her husband, getting into the car with their daughter and going out for tacos was a profoundly cherished experience.

I am humbled and elated by the news.

Yep. She's right. The gift of having a daughter return to enjoying life again must feel even better than an acceptance to a world-class university.

May is National Mental Health Month. Many thanks to the excellent professionals who dedicate their lives to helping improve the psychological and emotional well-being of teens. These amazing human beings dedicate their days to making life worth living for those like Sarah's daughter, who suffer from mental health issues.