There is a common belief that mental illness can only strike adults when actually, any given student can be silently combating depression or anxiety.
The statistics are startling. Eight out of every one-hundred students that walk through Malden High School’s halls may have moderate to severe depression. In an illness such as Social Anxiety Disorder, one that affects many students, the typical onset is thirteen years old.
Invisible illnesses such as anxiety and depression plague schools all across the country and a disconcerting amount of people are aware of its potency.
School can be a mentally taxing and physically draining place. As we progress throughout our high school careers, accruing high-level academics and extracurricular activities to our schedules, these responsibilities begin to take a mental wear on us. We are held to high standards by our peers, families, and teachers whose aims are to aid us in reaching our fullest potential.
School can also pose as a large source of anxiety for many students. A large part of our education comes in the form of homework or work that must be executed outside of school. Assignments, essays, and assessments that require studying amass rapidly over the course of a school day. Add that into the equation along with sports practices or drama rehearsals.
As adolescents, school is an imposing constant within our lives and has a large impact on our future. In four succinct years it can configure the entire scope of the rest of our adult lives. When principals, teachers, and coaches fail to take this into consideration, there can be potentially dangerous consequences for students and families.
Schools have the tendency to wade in the topic of mental health as opposed to fully diving into its implications. The lack mental health education in students may make it difficult for students to pinpoint the signs they may be exhibiting. These signs can occasionally be muddled. The lack of support and education in school only inhibits the knowledge of students, faculty, and staff.
I was not aware of possibility of having depression. It seemed like a foreign idea that could not have intruded open my personal stratosphere. I thought a lack of motivation and general hopelessness in the midst of my peers was a normal occurrence and that everyone felt this way occasionally. Surely it was normal, and surely, it would ultimately be proven fleeting.
The severe stigmatization of mental illness in society only perpetuates the ignorant notion that only adults are capable of having depression or the negligent belief that anxiety is “all in one’s head”. It can be very discouraging for students to realize that they may need help in an environment negatively charged with contempt and indifference toward non-physical sickness.
For someone who is already coping with a mental illness, relating to other peers their age can be a remote task. School can pose as a great source for knowledge and acceptance of mental illness and hopefully aid in its destigmatization.