Mental health issues have slowly increased amongst teenagers as stressful situations become more common

Khushi Kanchibotla

Staff Writer

     Juniors, it’s grind time. It has been around a month since the second semester has started, giving students only two to two and a half months of studying for the AP tests. Unfortunately, along with this intense studying comes its two-in-one package deal: stress. Stress is something each and every student goes through. Since it’s something everyone goes through, many think that it isn’t that big of a deal. However, that is not the case with many students, even a few here at American High. 

     Stress is not the only issue that plagues students’ minds; depression and anxiety all fall under the same family group of mental health issues. An anonymous source says, “I was diagnosed with clinical depression around freshmen year, but it has been going on since eighth grade. Things, like doing my homework, doing chores, or even playing video games, are harder to do because I want to do these things, but I can’t find the enjoyment to do them.”

     There are many causes from which mental health issues stem from. Mrs. Ronnie Ward, American High’s school psychologist, lists out a few. 

     “Number one, I have to blame it on social media because information, say bullying, can spread with a click,” Mrs. Ward says. As a psychologist for 25 years, Mrs. Ward has worked with multiple students and continues to say, “The expectation to get into college, the things you have to do to graduate, the need to be part of a club, [the participation in]a sport also play a major role in adding stress on students’ shoulders.” 

     As new causes for mental illnesses arise, mental health issues in students also spike. Many people have recently begun to analyze this pattern, and, according to Medical News Today, Sarah Oswalt from the University of Texas at San Antonio led a study that researched the recent increase in mental illnesses. The study found the greatest increases in diagnoses of anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, specifically, treatments and diagnoses for anxiety rose by 5.6 percent between 2009 and 2015, those for depression by 3.2 percent, and those for panic attacks by 2.8 percent. These serious psychiatric conditions — such as major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse disorder — start as early as the age of fourteen. 

     Mrs. Ward, when asked for an opinion as to why this increase is happening, replied with, “It’s my first year back, and it’s just amazing to me the access kids have to drugs. Coming to high school, you don’t know what you are vaping. I was at the hospital and I saw my friend, who was a psychiatrist, and when I asked what she was doing there, she told me there was a 5150. When I asked her what she thought the main cause was, she said, ‘Marijuana. They don’t know what is in it.’ A 5150 is when a student is a danger to themselves. The police are involved and the student is put on a three-day hold.”

     With these growing causes, students often find themselves at a dead end. Students sometimes may not have people to talk to, be it friends or family. Mrs. Ward says, “There are a lot of families that are broken families, where sometimes both parents are working so there is less parental support in the home. It’s just that they are not available, hence the lack of support.” Students may have a different outlook on the situation though. Abigail Cromie (11) explains, “[My parents] know that I’ve had a hard time, but they don’t know the extremities of it. [I haven’t opened up to them because] I’m just not close enough with them. I don’t feel like I’m comfortable with telling them issues.” Therapy is also a way to talk to someone, but it may not work for everyone. “I think it was there for me to talk instead of getting help,” Cromie continues, “Sometimes it’s good to talk to someone who knows what you’re talking about, but you are also talking to a stranger so it’s harder to open up to them and tell them about your problems.”

     Nevertheless, therapy can be helpful too. Students facing these issues are welcome to talk to our school psychologist, counselors, teachers and also may try opening up to their parents. Friends are also another outlet for students to talk to. 

     As Cromie says, “I feel like I definitely trust them a lot more and grew a lot closer to them. They have helped me a lot and comforted me. They are really empathetic.”

 Mrs. Ronnie Ward has been a school psychologist for twenty-five years and has worked at twenty-seven different schools in the Fremont Unified School District. She worked at American in 1996 and then switched to different schools, and this is her first year back at American. “Students need to be honest with themselves when they feel like they’re not okay. Don’t say you are okay. Be upfront and seek out.”

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