Is School Worth the Stress?
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.
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.
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.
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…
- Think how you can start the discussion on depression, anxiety, and stress in relation your school.
- Are the teachers and your classmates’ parents educated about depression, anxiety, and stress? If not, how can they learn more and join the discussion.
- Think about the education around depression, anxiety, and stress at your school. How can it be improved?
- 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?
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.