High School Students Experience Mental Health Complications

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You are sitting in class and see someone walk in with their eyes red and hair disheveled. Did you know this person has a sleeping disorder? You are leaving school and see someone sitting alone, crying in the hallway. Did you know this person has elevated levels of stress and anxiety?

Mental illnesses are a prevalent problem in today’s society, especially among high school students. To see how many students experienced mental illnesses, a survey was conducted of 100 LNE students of all grades. 71% of those surveyed have experienced a mental illness while in high school. This is a very high number, considering the national ratio is 1 out of 5 for adults who have a mental illness.

There are many complications students face while in high school, including mental illnesses. Sixty out of the 71 students who have experienced a complication have gone through stress in high school. Stress can be caused by a job or home life, but a major part of the problem comes from academics and schoolwork. Students are often faced with large amounts of work with little time allowed for completion. Many students are also involved in extracurricular activities. With the added workload from their classes, students are forced to stay up late to finish assignments. Losing sleep can cause one to fall behind in school and not mentally be there until he/she fully awakens. There are also quite a few students who fall behind in school because of family issues, school activities, sickness and illness. and become stressed as a result. One can tell these problems among a large amount of students cause a decrease in self-esteem, a negative well being and elevated stress levels.

Forty six out of the 71 students have experienced anxiety while in high school. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States; they affect 40 million citizens, yet only ⅓ seek treatment. As a matter of fact, there are many anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders can include, but are not limited to: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). Generalized Anxiety Disorder is constant, severe anxiety that interferes with day-to-day activities. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder has to do with thoughts and obsessions that lead to repetitive behaviors. Panic disorder is characterized by frequent attacks of terror and constant fearfulness. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is triggered by experiencing or witnessing a terrifying or traumatic event. Lastly, Social Anxiety Disorder occurs when everyday interactions cause self-consciousness and embarrassment. For example, someone has been trying to get his/her life together and keep his/her emotions in check. This takes a lot of effort, so many times a multitude of emotions are felt.

As a result of the difficulties students with anxiety fact, it is safe to say that these disorders are more than common in classrooms not only in Northeast, but around the country/world as well. Mental health needs to be taken more seriously to make sure students and young adults are able to get the education they need while staying free of complications that could interfere with their education.

An additional illness students go through is depression. Thirty one students have experienced depression while in high school. Depression is a common but serious illness that leaves one feeling helpless and detached from the world. It interferes with daily life, often making it hard to work, sleep and eat. Some symptoms include: loss of interest in social activities, loss in energy, feelings of guilt or anger over past failures, anger/frustration for no specific reason and many others.

So, A friend of yours on the basketball team suffers a career ending injury. She seemed okay at first but recently she has become more withdrawn and has stopped coming to any team related activities. She also doesn’t want to go out anymore and won’t return phone calls. This person is depressed. Depression is extremely common among students, many times affecting self esteem and academic performance. It is important to help those who are experiencing these complications while striving to make the acknowledgement of mental health problems a priority for the future.

18 students said they have experienced suicidal thoughts/actions, 13 of which saying they have induced self harm. According to learnpsychology.org, self-injury is when an individual deliberately harms his or her body without the intent to die from suicide. Individuals who practice self injury often do so with razor blades, scissors and other sharp objects until they bleed. For example, you notice your teammate has been wearing long sleeves lately. It seems a little odd to you because the weather outside is too warm for long sleeves. Lately, he has been withdrawn and at times irritable. He seems to be under a lot of pressure but does not wish to talk about it. During a practice, his sleeve slips just enough for you to see what appears to be a couple of old scars and a few new cuts along his forearm. This is a prime example of self harm.

Regarding suicide, according to a 2011 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 39,518 suicides in the United States. It is important to know that the majority of these students who think about or attempt suicide face depression and other mental illnesses. Common suicidal warnings include the following: change in personality or behavior, drop in academic performance, extreme physical and emotional pain and many others.

Mental health among students is a detrimental problem in today’s society. Students can be going through the worst days possible, but no one knows. It is vital that students are provided with mental health centers at school, counselors to talk to, and a welcoming, inclusive environment. By including these factors, mental health has the ability to decline among students and positivity can continue to grow.