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Depression, Anxiety and Stress in Students


Is School Worth the Stress?

BACKGROUND:

Anxiety is the most common mental-health disorder in the United States. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety affects nearly one-third of both children and adults. Unlike depression, with which it routinely occurs, anxiety is often viewed by others as a less serious problem. “Anxiety is easy to dismiss or overlook, partially because everyone has it to some degree,” explained Philip Kendall, director of the Child and Adolescent Anxiety Disorders Clinic at Temple University in Philadelphia.  

Students in today’s day and age have been known to be more overwhelmed by school when compared to previous generations, such as their parents and grandparents. Getting into a top college is on almost every high schooler’s mind, along with social pressures, athletics, sexual changes and other extracurricular activities. There is no time for a student’s mind to rest. These factors lead to many American teens becoming anxious and developing other mental illnesses.

 

“Some days it would all be too much for me… I would skip school by pretending to be sick. However, I only became more overwhelmed by having to make up work I missed” – Anonymous, Senior

 

In a 2017 study 81.5% of students reported at least one of the symptoms for depression, anxiety, or stress. Since 2010 the number of students suffering from these symptoms have only increased.

 


THE CHALLENGE:

Jake was the average high school student, taking three Advanced Placement classes, running for his school’s cross-country team and participating in Model UN conferences. Along with many of his classmates, Jake’s biggest fear was failing. Shortly after turning seventeen years old, Jake hit a wall. When asked to go to school, Jake refused. He curled up in the fetal position on the floor of his bedroom screaming, “I just can’t take it!.” Telling his parents, “You just don’t understand!” For the next year and a half Jake was in and out of hospitals for anxiety and depression.

 

 

 

Carley’s experience with stress at school:

 

 

In my years at high school I have seen the detrimental effects anxiety and depression can have on students. Often it results in grades dropping, the quitting a of sport, a failure to focus in school or even having to leave school for a couple months in order to seek treatment. I pass our high school counselor’s office everyday on my way down to the lunch room. Everytime I pass the office I see the same group of kids waiting to meet the counselor. The more I passed the the office the more I wondered why more students don’t visit her. When asking peers on the subject of visiting our school counselor there were three common types of answers: they don’t have time to see a counselor everytime they feel overwhelmed, they do not feel that the counselor is able to do anything, or they don’t want to be seen outside the counselor’s office. These statements are the reasons why the number of students suffering from symptoms of depression, anxiety, or stress have only been going up since the turn of the decade.

 

Schools need to encourage the engagement in conversation around the development of these mental illness’ relation to the increasing pressures of academics. My objective is to educate my school about the prominence of depression, anxiety, and stress and the impact they have on students. I want for students from my school to start the discussion and see how prevalent depression, anxiety and stress is in our own community. This will allow for a greater understanding among the students and hopefully also gain empathy for those who are affected.


THE SOLUTION:

This past Wednesday,  a discussion took place at my school concerning the topic of depression, anxiety, and stress in relation to school. In the morning, students take part in a 35 minute advisory period. I asked my peers to come to my advisory and talk about the subject. I started the conversation by stating facts from my research. I then asked questions about what my peers’ thought about the data. The answers and questions from the students then snowballed into a lengthy discussion.

 

The photo was taken two minutes before I started the discussion, and nearly twice as many students showed up than depicted here.


WHAT’S NEXT?

My next steps include continuing the discussion of depression, anxiety, and stress in relation to my school. I am working on a way to involve more teachers and the parents of my peers. I started the #stopthestress movement in order to get other schools to join the discussion.

If you want to join the movement…

  1. Think how you can start the discussion on depression, anxiety, and stress in relation your school.
  2. Are the teachers and your classmates’ parents educated about depression, anxiety, and stress? If not, how can they learn more and join the discussion.
  3. Think about the education around depression, anxiety, and stress at your school. How can it be improved?
  4. What are ways students can learn to manage their stress levels and school work in a healthy manner? How can you share these tools with your peers?

SOURCES CITED:

Denizet-lewis, Benoit. “Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Severe Anxiety?” The New York Times, The New York Times, 11 Oct. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/10/11/magazine/why-are-more-american-teenagers-than-ever-suffering-from-severe-anxiety.html.

 

Kumar, K Sathish, and Brogen Singh Akoijam. “Depression, Anxiety and Stress Among Higher Secondary School Students of Imphal, Manipu.” Indian Journal of Community Medicine : Official Publication of Indian Association of Preventive & Social Medicine, Medknow Publications & Media Pvt Ltd, 2 Apr. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5427869/.’

 

“Stress at School | Carley Rogers | TEDxYouth@ParkCity.” Performance by Carley Rogers, YouTube, YouTube, 9 June 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbic3JCX1jo.

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COMMENTS: 16
  1. April 28, 2018 by Sidney Derzon

    Hi Alex! I really enjoyed reading your project. Anxiety in school is becoming very prominent so I think your topic is super important. You brought your topic to life through your videos, pictures, and graphics. I especially like that you had a meeting in your school working towards the goal of creating change. Overall, well done!

    • April 29, 2018 by Alex Martha

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I thought having a conversation with my classmates would be the fastest way to improve the understanding of the subject at my school. I wanted to start with the students for my first conversation becuase those are the ones suffering from the problem. I plan to talk to parents and teachers next so they can learn to help. Thanks again!

  2. April 28, 2018 by Mailie Saito

    I think the topic of your project was very interesting because it is something that we can all relate to. I liked how you added a TED Talk from a person in our age range. I also thought it was really nice that you had a meeting with your peers.

    • April 29, 2018 by Alex Martha

      I wanted to make a project in which I myself could relate to, leading to me to settle on this topic. It took a little digging in order to find that TED Talk, but it was worth it becuase I thought the audience could learn more from someone who is going through the same things as the people talked about in the article. Thank you for your very kind words on my project.

  3. April 29, 2018 by Anya.Weaver

    I really like the variety of ways you presented your information. Your project is excellently structured, and very clear. The peer engagement focus was really nice as well, especially since this topic is really about students and the school community.

    • April 29, 2018 by Alex Martha

      When reading over other projects before doing my own, I saw that many people did not make their project very clear. Thus making my project as clear as possible a top priority for me. I am glad that the audience was able to find my project very clear and easy to understand. Thank you for your very kind words on my project.

  4. April 29, 2018 by Abhay.Katyal

    I really enjoyed reading your project! This looks really amazing and your page is also very interesting! You used many different techniques in order to display your information and it was very effective. All in all, this looks really good and it was soo interesting to read!

    • April 29, 2018 by Alex Martha

      My goal was to use many techniques in order to get my point across becuase I know people learn in different ways. I, myself, learn from videos the best, but I know some people like to read or look at pictures. I feel I got something in my project from everyone to learn from.

  5. April 29, 2018 by Morinsola.Tinubu

    I really enjoyed reading about your topic! I do think that there is a lot of added stress at schools and that this can lead to other severe emotions. I liked how you included your own personal narrative into the presentation because it drew me in as a reader. Wonderful job!

    • April 29, 2018 by Alex Martha

      I wanted to make a project in which I myself could relate to. I then could be able to put in my own input on the subject, and not only rely on the facts or the opinions of doctors and experts. I really thought the inclusion of a personal narrative would help the reader relate more becuase it is a problem almost all teens in high school are facing. Thank you for your very kind words on my project.

  6. April 29, 2018 by Luisa

    I really liked your project and all of the examples and visuals you displayed. This really encouraged me to start a conversation at my school about mental health and the effect that school has on students’ anxiety.

    • April 29, 2018 by Alex Martha

      I am so glad to hear that my project has inspired you to take action at your own school. That was my main goal with this project is not only to start change at my school, but also create change at schools all around the world. I believe the subject is one of the most important at this day and age, and it does not get enough attention. I would love to know how your conversation goes at your school becuase at my school people seemed to really take away a lot from just one meeting. Thank you for your very kind words on my project.

  7. April 29, 2018 by Nicole.Sanders

    Hey Alex, I really liked your project! It was really relatable because it focused on the school environment. I like how you included a TED talk, and a variety of pictures. It was formatted well and really interesting to read.

    • April 29, 2018 by Alex Martha

      Almost all teens are going through high school, and all of them could relate to this subject. I wanted to make my project as applying to the eye as possible, and I am glad to hear that you thought it was very well formatted. Thank you for your very kind words on my project.

  8. April 30, 2018 by Hanan.Sherka

    I like how you showed the engagement that you made happen with your community, and that it feels like it is clear that it is something you care about. The visuals, and different types of media helps making it all easy to follow. Great!

  9. April 30, 2018 by Madison.Collins

    I like how you included a video. It was really informative.

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