Students and Their Mental Health

Meleah York, Assistant Editor

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High school is probably the most tumultuous time in a person’s life. Between the insane amount of homework, social pressures, and trying to figure out your place in the world, it takes an extreme toll on students’ mentally. Teenagers are already going through drastic fluctuations in hormones and trying to finding places to fit in, and mental health tends to decline with the increase of stress in their lives.

School also has a huge role in the depression and anxiety felt to some degree by most students today. With the constant pressure of getting exceptional grades in order to go to expensive colleges, there’s hardly enough time to breathe when stress over schoolwork and commitments to extracurricular activities fill up your life. What the public school system does not realize is that being a teenager really sucks. We already deal with so much, and with the constant void of homework, we don’t have free time to spend with friends or family and we hardly get enough sleep (if any) in order to complete that evening’s assignment. Many a time I’ve had to skip a family event or a good night’s sleep just to turn in a project the next day.

Twenty percent of teens have a diagnosable mental health disorder, and teens between ages 15-19 are at an increased risk of suicide. In fact, suicide is the third most leading cause of death in teens, and this can be traced back to copious amounts of stress placed on students in the school environment.

“I’ve been taught that I can work and enjoy myself, but that’s a lie,” an anonymous KHS junior said. “The two ideas are mutually exclusive. If I’m having fun, I’m not working. If I’m not working, I’m failing. It’s a choice between stress and failure.”

“It’s hard for me to get through my day without feeling like I’m good enough in my classes,” junior Ellory Doyle said. “The school creates a more competitive spirit academically, and I feel incredibly anxious under such tremendous pressure.”

As teens, our brains are still developing, and sleep becomes important in order to feel good mentally, yet we must stay up late in order to complete homework assignments. And don’t even get me started on all of the standardized testing we’re forced to do.

Finland, on the other hand, has an exceptional school system that focuses on not only the importance of education, but also mental health. Compared to other systems, there is hardly any homework or exams until students are well into their teens. There is only one mandatory standardized test that must be taken when students are sixteen. The difference between weakest and strongest students is the smallest in the world, and 93% of Finns graduate high school. Compare that to America’s 83 percent. Even better, the overall happiness and mental health of Finnish students is put first, especially through the small amounts of homework and shorter school days.

As a country, we need our public education systems to improve. We are not just numbers or ranks or GPAs. We’re human beings whose worth is not determined by how much more intelligent we are than other people. Mental health at Keller and high schools across the nation is at an all-time low, and we need to be reminded often that scores on a test do not define who we are as a person. If we stop talking about the horrendous effects of stress, depression, and anxiety on your average student, we’re ignoring what has been normalized in our society. Take care of each other. Support each other. But most of all, if this issue sparks a fire in you, be the change you wish to see.

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Students and Their Mental Health