You Are Not Alone

Students discuss coping with stress, anxiety and depression.

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You Are Not Alone

Aaron Jones, Joey O'Kelly, and Mara Fryer

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Student View –

“Let me finesse on that stress.”

“What’s lower, my GPA or my will to live?”

“Anxiety is my middle name.”

Humor involving self-deprecation and mental health has become completely normalized, so why is there still a stigma around mental health?

“Mental health is such a touchy subject because people don’t want to be looked at differently,” senior Zach Sauer said. “Some people are just so afraid to open up.”

Mental health may be seen as a touchy subject but it still exists. While anyone can have mental health issues such as anxiety or depression, it is more common in high schoolers. Stress, on the other hand, is not a mental illness but can lead to one if left untreated. Roughly 20% of people aged 13-18 have some sort of mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

School can sometimes worsen mental health if there is a lot of stress put on the brain,” freshman Alice O’Kelly said. “If you try to manage everything well and stay organized, you should be OK.”

Teachers have an impact on each of their students but students with mental illnesses may be affected in different ways. Students with mental illness are often just looking for teachers to be understanding.

“I want the staff to know that it’s okay to not be the most educated on teenage mental health,” Sauer said.  We aren’t the most rational age group. It’s okay to ask a student how their day is going or even how their life is going. Let us know that you love each and every one of us and that we are safe in your classroom.”

While mental illness is a serious subject, it shouldn’t change the way people with mental illnesses are treated.

“Don’t be insensitive to us, but we also don’t want to be handled with kid gloves,” Daniels said. “We want respect. There’s no reason why someone who’s a little different than you or someone who struggles with something a little different than you doesn’t deserve respect.”

“I want the staff to know that it’s okay to not be the most educated on teenage mental health. We aren’t the most rational age group. It’s okay to ask a student how their day is going or even how their life is going.”

— Senior Zach Sauer

Expert View –

Stress and anxiety is a part of every school year no matter who you are. Throughout the recent years it has been increasingly accepted and encouraged to speak out about your own mental health.

“In my twelve years here as a nurse I have seen a significant increase in numbers,” Nurse Karla Hausman said. “People are feeling more comfortable in talking about anxiety so they’re talking to their doctors and getting diagnosed.”

When the topic of stress and anxiety comes up, so does the conversation of who is most affected by it. On both sides of the spectrum freshmen may have some more stress at the beginning of their first year of high school, and seniors may have more when they are about to graduate. It ends up to be about equally dispersed throughout the grade levels.

“Anxiety doesn’t discriminate,” Hausman said. “Anybody can have anxiety. It’s equally distributed throughout the grades.”

Throughout the entire school year, the amount of people who come in for help with stress doesn’t change that much, while the amount of people who are experiencing it does increase.

“I don’t know if there’s a particular time people come in for help. The beginning of the year, around finals testing time, spring, any time there’s testing in the building; but it’s not a dramatic increase,” Mendez said.

This means that during the most stressful time of the year, people who are under a lot of stress are not coming in for help. A solution of this is for the school to raise awareness about people’s option, which can be challenging with how touchy of a subject it still is.

“As a school, we are trying our best,” Hausman said. “It’s hard as a school but we have great counselors, social workers, nurses and our administrators. We try to work together with teachers and parents, but it’s not something that just the school can help with.”

Getting Help –

Although it has become much more accepted to speak up about mental health to others, it can still be a challenge to figure out what to do about it since everyone’s circumstances are different. A person’s first step could be to go see a counselor or social worker. They will help figure out what is best for the individual.

“We help them learn coping skills, try and help them identify triggers and when necessary we provide just a quiet place to help calm down,” Social Worker Cathy Mendez said. “We try and fix scheduling issues when appropriate. We also work with their families.”

In order to help students make it through the tough times, the LHS nurses and counselors are always at-the-ready to help in times of need

“For me, the nurses are a really great help just to relax; they’re really nice there,” junior Bailey Daniels said. “The counseling office is also a big one for people. I know it can be difficult to talk to an administrator or a counselor but they’re still there.”

When dealing with mental health it’s important to realize that LHS alone cannot take away all the stress and anxiety that school causes, and if someone feels that they are overwhelmed, go and see a outside professional, such as a counselor or a psychiatrist. The most important part of dealing with mental health issues is talking to someone and getting help.

“If you’re struggling with something and you need a safe space or you need help, go to a trusted adult,” Daniels said. “It doesn’t have to be a parent. Not every trusted adult is going to be a parent. Go to a trusted adult and get the help that you think you need. Whether that be therapy, maybe cutting back on activities, taking some time to yourself or seeing a psychiatrist, there are so many different options.”


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