Mental health affects students

Faith Webb Entertainment Editor

Over recent years, more and more people are coming out and talking about the importance of mental health and well-being, especially since the pandemic started – when social resources and personal interaction were extremely low, and people reported on social media about how it affected their mental health. Now that schools are open, as a society we have grown around COVID-19, but the mental issues of those affected didn’t disappear.

 Mental health is still an important and pressing matter that heavily affects teenagers. The behaviors learned while dealing with and coping with mental issues carry into adulthood and set a precedent for teenagers that can be hard to change. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have even pushed out information on mental health matters for teenagers and what are the risks for mental illness.

“Mental health problems in youth often go hand-in-hand with other health and behavioral risks like increased risk of drug use, experiencing violence, and higher risk sexual behaviors that can lead to HIV, STDs, and unintended pregnancy,” the CDC states on their website.

Even though mental health hs been given more attention recently, some students still feel as if matters of mental health are stigmatized, often feeling that this stigmatization comes from peers and even adults around them. This plays a factor into the life of senior William Bailey.

“Some people constantly go after one demographic of people that they see as ‘emo,’ or ‘edgy.’ These kids, bullies, just go after them for any reason that they can find. And I know its vulnerability on their part because they are projecting onto others in a negative way, but it’s still the fact that mental health isn’t taken seriously and is more played off as a joke,” Bailey said.

However, over time with social media, mental health has been getting more traction and focus. Normalizing mental health awareness and giving resources, coping mechanisms, and overall giving coverage on the realities of mental illness are important. Coverage and discussions about mental health can be found in  instructor Rachel Carraher’s class.

“I think that we are moving in a positive  direction where we are seeing less of a negative stigma because we are learning more about the brain, and mental health, and the impacts that has on our stress levels  and what that does to our other health,” Carraher said.

While every person’s experience with mental health unique, there are ways to either stay mentally well or get to a better place. Every situation is different with how people cope in their own personal lives, but there are general pieces of advice usually given. Sophomore Sage Frazier uses a variety of strategies to handle stress.

“Just kind of playing games with friends or resting, taking a day to myself. Sometimes taking a bath, watching my favorite shows or even taking a nap. Just letting yourself reset when everything feels so stressful leaving you overwhelmed,” Frazier said.

While counselors specialize in mental health, their availability can vary. Having someone within the school, such as a teacher or friend can also be very helpful. Establishing strong communication with these relationships can be very beneficial, especially with those one feels most comfortable.

“The ones that they usually tell you to go to seem too busy with things, or its scary to even go to them because other kids could see it and think less of you, or you’re scared that it could happen,” Frazier said. “It’s honestly easier to get closer to a teacher and see them as a close adult figure, or even a parental figure to some, than it is to some help that they assign to you.”

Life can change quickly, so doing mental health checkins with oneself and  others is important. Whether it be with friends, family, or any trusted person, taking some time to talk about mental health and work through it has been able to help many people address their own problems.

“Mental health is very important and I try to preach that to my students that caring for your mental health is just as important as your regular health, your other bodily health. I think meditation is a very powerful tool for our minds to give us clarity in life and give us a break from over stimulation. I think that’s what a lot of our mental health issues come from is the constant bombardment of stimuli that we receive from our environment  and our minds can’t handle that, we weren’t built to have this constant stream of information coming in,” Carraher said.