My first semester of junior year I was cruising, turning assignments on time, getting great grades, and overall doing well. Now, I’m struggling with mental health rooted in personal life and school. As my workload increases, I find myself becoming more overwhelmed and stressed. However, my story isn’t the only story like this, as many other students in high school find themselves confined by the stress and anxiety that comes with school.
Teenagers in our generation are at a larger risk of having a mental illness, compared to previous years. Among youth, depression has increased 52 percent from 2005 to 2017 and anxiety has risen 41 percent since 1985. The issue is apparent, and I believe it has to do with the combination of school pressures and the insufficient amount of emotional support by administration.
Many schools aren’t prepared to have the mental health conversation with their students and staff as they don’t see it as a high priority, unless a specific concern pops up. The lack of support and awareness of mental health issues within high school worsens the problem entirely. Drowning in work and dealing with personal problems, it is often hard to escape or find someone to talk to about their problems. It is crucial that students have safe spaces to pause the world for one moment, but they are notably absent at Wilson. The only time our school has ever offered help was when one of our beloved students passed away. This was a great improvement at acknowledging mental health, yet it was temporary and only happened because of a tragedy. This shouldn’t be the case.
I understand our school might not be wealthy enough to hire professional therapists or psychiatrists to serve every student individually, but there are other ways they can help. I had a teacher who reserved time for us to meditate before our mid-term. It was extremely helpful, especially when I was already in a poor mental state. That five minutes of mediation was able to calm me down and provide a distraction from the racing thoughts in my head. If administration enables a more mental health-conscious attitude and arranges a plan to give their students a moment to breathe and take a break from anything bothering them at that moment, it could be incredibly helpful. Even if it only took three minutes from our morning announcements, it would relieve students, allowing them to breathe and destress. For teachers, acknowledging our struggles and offering a door to talk could be the best thing. Often students feel alone and knowing that one person cares about their wellbeing can make them comfortable enough to share. Other alternatives can come in the form of a designated room designed for a brain break. It can offer a couch to lay down on, coloring sheets or a white noise machine to create a zen environment.
Mental health is a hard battle to fight, but it is even harder when fighting it alone. School is a community and should do their best to help everyone out. Even the smallest efforts to help students manage their mental health can be so beneficial. I’m not asking for much. I’m just asking for recognition and support for my fellow classmates who have it rough right now. •