Mental health and its impact on students

Whether it’s good or bad, mental health has huge impacts on us. No matter who you are, the state of your mental health can make or break your life. When people focus on school or work more than they do themselves, mental health takes a steep decline. This is why we see so many high schoolers struggling.
High schools expect students to dedicate their lives to getting good grades. We get 2 hours minimum of homework and studying a day, without time to work in class. Many students have extracurriculars and work outside of school. That takes up a lot of their time as well, only leaving an hour or two for time to themselves. However, there is also the factor of social lives and eating food, which also takes up time. All in all, the total amount of time dedicated to school impedes the personal time of students. Personal time, and recharging time for many, greatly increases the quality of mental health because it allows students to relax without worrying about the other factors in their lives.
The lack of personal time and good mental health both impact students’ performance in school, especially tests. Tests are a large part of many grades, yet are stressful and difficult. A lot of students have trouble taking tests. Despite their knowledge of the subject, students may struggle to succeed under the time and grade pressure of tests. It hurts their grades and mental health. According to the CDC, 15.1% of kids from 12-17 had major depressive episodes in 2018-19. The Youth Behavior Risk Survey showed that 36% of high schoolers “who felt sad or hopeless (almost every day for ≥2 weeks in a row such that they stopped doing some usual activities.)” These usual activities may include work, hobbies, and school. This hopelessness affects everyone at some point, however it is arguably worse for high school students. The pressure to get high grades and perform well in sports and work causes students to have more despair in their lives. To feel as if you need to be perfect while dealing with mental health decline can be debilitating.
People tend to oversimplify mental health and ways to improve it. Teachers and parents tend to tell students to take a break. However, with the homework and tests that are constantly increasing, breaks can make school more difficult than necessary. Many common phrases are: ‘Just breathe’ and ‘Push through it.’ These phrases can be helpful to some, but they also make the complexity of mental health seem simple. It causes the affected parties to feel invalidated. Solving, or helping, mental health is a minefield. Everyone has different things that help them with their mental health struggles. Using the same thing everytime will not work, and may make things worse.
The best way to help someone in this situation is to ask what you can do to help. Sometimes there won’t be anything to do, and in that case the best course of action is to tell them you are there, but let them process it alone until they reach out. From an outsider’s view, mental health can seem very simple, as theirs may be. That is why we need to educate people on how to help if someone around them is struggling. This lack of this education can be dangerous. There are clubs in which they promote education and information about mental health, although it is made for students who are struggling. While these students do need a safe space to feel welcomed, it is arguably just as important to educate those outside of these struggles.
This issue isn’t just a vague problem in the outside world. Students at North also struggle with mental health impacting their life, which makes this problem all the more real. The counselors here at North hold what are called ‘minute meetings’ – short meetings to check in on students. With this comes a google form questionnaire.
To invalidate these students causes the hole to get deeper. What students need to thrive is acknowledgment and efforts to help them. The amount of effort in schools to help students is unacceptable.
How would you say your mental health affects your grades?

Would you say you struggle with mental health?

What do you think the school could do to improve the conditions for working?
Do you have a good school, work, and life balance?