Why schools should focus on mental health


Sophie Werwage

Students struggle with mental health issues every day. Schools should focus more on advocating for change in classrooms in order to create a safer environment.

Three hundred sixty-five days a year. Each year students spend 180 days of the 365 days drowning themselves in a mass overload of schoolwork while trying to somehow balance sports, clubs, work, volunteering and a stable social life at the same time. The societal norm that students are able to manage all extracurricular activities and have a healthy mental mindset going into school every morning is delusional and unrealistic. The fact is, many teenagers suffer from anxiety, stress and depression due to school and this is an ongoing issue that should not be swept under the rug. 

The American youth has been showing increasing signs of mental health issues and these concerns are stemmed from the amount of pressure pushed onto teenagers. According to a study done by the Pew Research Center, “ [with the] pressures teens face, academics tops the list: 61 percent of teens say they feel a lot of pressure to get good grades.” The fact that more than half of our nation’s teenage population relates to this feeling is alarming. Schools exist to guide students into a better future, however, students feel that grades are what defines them as a person. More than half of the students do not know they are worth more than a grade. 

A letter grade or a percentage determines who I and so many students are? Why should students care about the content of the information provided to them every day when the only thing driving them is to know their worth is an A or a 100 percent on every single test? It does not matter what the content is as long as they know how to pass a test and simply memorize the information, not understanding the concept. This is the issue with our education system. We value students who excel on tests, but we lack the concern for mental health and why this fixed mentality strains high school students. 

Anxiety and depression are not given enough awareness amongst teenagers and if I were to tell my future child that they need to stop everything, and solely focus on schoolwork, life would be burdening for them. If a kid walks into high school knowing that more than half of the students there are experiencing some form of anxiety or depression, wouldn’t it alarm you? A study done by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) found out that an estimated 31.9 percent of teenagers ranging from 14 to 18 had any anxiety disorder. As a community, we fail to address this issue and this is the sole reason why teenagers feel unworthy, useless and unmotivated about many aspects of life. 

Although yes, homework may be valuable to students to potentially understand the concept of the content taught, what is the benefit when most of the time students do not have the energy to give 100% effort into it? The truth is the more homework, the more stressful it is for us. Students spend seven hours at school and now they have to do even more school work at home.

One day, society will realize, when issues catch up to us, that there needs to be a change. But change is difficult and takes time. We should act now. Give students air to breathe, a life to live! A reason to stay motivated! Grades do not and should not determine a student’s worth. Adding unnecessary stress and anxiety on students will not benefit them in the long run. You know that. I know that. We all know that. So why are we still struggling?