Mental Health, Its Effects on High School Students, and How Treatment Can Be More Accessible

  As 7.7 million American teens suffer from anxiety, depression, and similar disorders, schools in America have yet to clear the greatest obstacle in the education of our nation’s youth: unaddressed mental health struggles.

  Mental health issues pop up all around America, and since they cannot be physically seen, they cannot be diagnosed properly and given proper treatment. The impact left behind by the lack of mental health services ensure brutal consequences that derive from stress and other factors, with the main one being suicide. As of the past decade or so, American high school students with significant symptoms of depression were more likely to drop out of school compared to their peers. To prevent these issues from taking a step further, mental health is something that must be paid more attention to, and this can be done by making mental health services more accessible for all high school students.

  Nevertheless, despite neglected mental health’s detrimental effects on learning, many students of low-income backgrounds continue to leave serious mental disorders untreated due to financial obstacles. .According to the Office Of Population Affairs, around 49.5% of adolescents reported that they suffered from  a mental health disorder that intensifies if left untreated. However, schools now provide free, accessible, and adequate mental health care. Taking the lead in supporting student wellbeing, Hacienda La Puente Unified School District (HLPUSD) published a webpage of mental health related resources during the COVID-19 lockdown. Additionally, Glen A. Wilson High School (GAWHS) from HLPUSD also partners with University of Southern California’s  (USC) telehealth program to support students who are in need of  in-depth counseling services.

  It should not matter how much money one has to get some amount of therapy or treatment for whatever issue they are going through. Here at Wilson, students have the ability to gain better mental health access than they could have ever thought of.

  Most students, at some point, have experienced some amount of anxiety or stress during their school years. This may be due to the load of work given to them or the sort of expectations they put on themselves based on how someone views them. Most likely they will be viewed on performance and grades because of their parents, but there are also some cases where their view on themselves affects them too. As the pressure latches onto the students, their sense of security and standing falls apart below their feet, opening a path to messing up all the effort they put in for their achievements and goals. In turn, students may not feel worthy enough of anything in particular and force themselves to be “better.” They lose sleep studying, their anxiety grows as they expect either the worst or best on a test, and few students will mentally attack themselves for not doing well on something. It is a vicious cycle that may never be broken, and all of those actions can lead to more uncontrolled stress and exhaustion, which can lead to not having the will to keep going.

  Even if some students suffer from different forms of mental health issues, they may not want to be assisted simply because they want to keep their reasons to themselves, they think finding assistance is extremely difficult, or some programs aren’t very useful. Typical counseling sessions involve a therapist and their patient sitting down and letting the patient talk about their feelings, but there are some cases where it’s not useful, as it may be uncomfortable or the counselor may not fully understand what their patient is saying. It would be more preferable if both sides were to easily communicate in different ways instead of just talking things out. 

  On the topic of maximizing the benefits of counseling sessions, GAWHS school psychologist Dr. Brady explains the importance of effective communication strategies in counseling.

  “Nowadays, good counseling is not really like the stereotypical version of sitting on your couch and talking about your feelings,” Brady said. “and it [therapy] might be limited to 8-12 sessions, and it is to really make sure the skillsets are provided in an efficient manner.” 

  Students’ mental health can be affected in many ways: stress, holding onto expectations of themselves, losing everything they had for something they found important. Again, some of them don’t have the necessities or income to pay for the treatments they need, but for schools all around America, things can change for the better through gaining access to the multiple resources and responses provided for mental health assistance, just like how Wilson has done it.

The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is a hotline for individuals in crisis or for those looking to help someone else. To speak with a trained listener, call 988.

Crisis Text Line is a texting service for emotional crisis support. To speak with a trained listener, text HELLO to 741741. It is free, available 24/7, and confidential.

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