by BRIANNA KATSUDA
Rising numbers of high school students are experiencing anxiety and depression from increasing pressures from school, family, and social media.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 2 million teenagers in the United States are experiencing depression that affects their day-to-day activities and 6.3 million have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can cause conflict with peers, substance use, low self-esteem, attendance issues and bad work habits. It is imperative that students, schools, and parents are aware of this issue, and realize that mental health is just as important as physical health.
One of the most common factors that may cause the recent increase of mental health issues is social media. Brian A. Primak, director of the center for Research on Health at University of Pittsburgh, people who check social media more often were 2.7 times more likely to be depressed than people who check it less frequently. AP Psychology teacher, Ms. Middleton, explains other factors that are causing the spike of mental health issues.
“One reason is because people think it’s a weakness and are afraid to talk about it with their parents, teachers, and peers,” Ms. Middleton said.
Like Ms. Middleton stated, when talking about mental health issues, there seems to be a stigma of having mental health problems or going to therapy. Even as I wrote this article, some students who I asked to interview to share their story of dealing with anxiety or depression declined because they did not want other students to know. However, people should not be ashamed for getting help when they need it.
If you feel as if you need help or support through experiencing mental health problems, here are some steps you can take to get help. At Cerritos High School, we have an intern, two social workers, and a psychologist. Either a teacher or a counselor can refer you–or you can refer yourself–to one of them and you will be asked to fill out a consent form, and the scheduling of sessions can be determined by you (weekly/monthly/bi-monthly). The benefit of going to the school’s therapy sessions is that the cost is covered by the school and everything you discuss is confidential (unless you say something that puts yourself or others in danger).
If you are struggling to deal with depression or anxiety, there are many coping strategies that can help. Ms. Middleton said you can talk to teachers you are comfortable with, exercise, do breathing exercises, yoga, listen to calm music, write in a journal, create a gratitude journal, or volunteer. The school’s psychologist also had different ways to cope: meditate, use fidget squeeze toys, play with kinetic sand, find your triggers and see how you can deal with them. However, if you are in a depressed mood or need to talk to someone, you can text HOME to 741741, which will direct you to a free texting service where you can talk to a trained volunteer about your problems. You can find more information here: https://www.crisistextline.org/how-it-works/.
Don’t ever feel as if you are alone and that there is no one to help you. There are so many people who you can talk to and will listen: close friends, family members, teachers, and counselors at school.