High school is not easy. As soon as you step foot on campus as a freshman, you realize that this is nothing like High School Musical. The older you get in high school, you begin to face mental stressors that neither Troy nor Gabriella warned you about. With advanced classes, family issues, social dilemmas, and grades, a student’s mental health begins to take a toll.
It’s been found that one in five teens suffer from at least one mental health disorder(Important Mental Health Statistics for Parents 2019). According to the CDC, between 2007-2018, suicide was the second leading death in people aged 10-24(Curtin & Heron 2019). From this, it’s clear to see that mental illness is a growing crisis in teens that needs to be addressed.
In an American Psychological Association survey, it reported that some teens’ stress levels exceeded adult stress levels (Buthen 2014). Along with this, teens also reported that they felt overwhelmed or depressed from their constant stress. 42% of teens said they were, “not doing enough or were not sure if they were doing enough to manage their stress.” This startling survey shows how teens are in dire need of managing their mental health.
I spoke to 12 students from my school about the mental stressors that they faced on a day-to-day. Most said a lack of sleep was one of the biggest stressors they faced. Some reported having 3-4 hours of sleep each day because of heavy homework loads and some being too anxious to sleep.
These students also reported that they had large amounts of caffeine to stay awake during the school day. Another common stressor was family issues. Students reported that family drama made it hard for them to focus in class and weighed on them physically.
When asked on how they handle their stress, a majority of students responded with, “Not very well.” A few were even confident to tell me that they used marijuana or vaping to treat their anxieties and to help study for tests.
Since the pandemic has started, all of these students said they felt anxious and sad without social interactions with classmates. They also mentioned that without the interaction, focusing during online class meeting has become difficult. One student even shared that without social interactions, their depression symptoms started to worsen.
This left me wondering what I could do for student’s mental health while in a pandemic. That’s when I came up with creating a mental health page for my school’s website. On the webpage it would include videos of actual counselors and on-campus social organizations explaining
various mental health topics and where to receive aid. In addition, I would include lifelines where students in a crisis could call or text whenever they needed help. These lifelines would include the Suicide Prevention Hotline, National Child Abuse Lifeline, Youth Crisis Hotline, and others. I first shared my idea with our school’s Leadership program advisor of my idea. He loved the idea and even helped me set up a meeting with the school’s vice principal. The vice Principal also loved this idea, and we worked together to set up the webpage.
As of November 18, my website is up and running. The title of my webpage is Mental Health Services. On the page are video links from our school’s counselors about abuse, the importance of mental health, and other helpful information. I also included lifelines and on-campus organizations that students can reach out to. Currently, I am still finding resources to benefit students such as LGBTQIA+ and racial trauma resources. With the help of my school’s Leadership program, I plan to spread the word about the page through social media and find more ways to encourage students to access the page if need be.
My hope is that this web page becomes an outlet that students can reach out to keep them mentally healthy and let them know they are never alone. Not only do I want students to have good mental health, I want this page to let them be advocates for the importance of mental health.
The link to my website:
Buthen, Sophie. Teen Stress Rivals That of Adults. Apr. 2014, www.apa.org/monitor/2014/04/teen-stress.
Curtin, Sally C., and Melonie Heron. Death Rates Due to Suicide and Homicide Among Persons Aged … Oct. 2019, www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db352-h.pdf.
“Important Mental Health Statistics for Parents.” Edited by Polaris Teen Center, Polaris Teen Center, Polaris Teen Center, 23 Aug. 2018, polaristeen.com/articles/teen-mental-health-stats/.