High School Students and Mental Health


Phillip Murphy and Lee' Montez Kidd

Mental health is something that is often overlooked, but it is so important. As high school students, we are going through a lot of changes and our mental health can suffer because of it. There are ways to get help if you’re struggling and there are people who care. You are not alone.

Teenagers face a variety of challenges that can have a profound impact on their mental health. School-related stressors are particularly common, with many teens reporting feeling overwhelmed or anxious due to grades, relationships, and peer pressure. Research has found that nearly 3 in 4 high school students struggle with a mental health issue at some point during their teenage years. This can manifest in physical symptoms such as headaches and stomachaches, as well as emotional ones like depression and anxiety. It is essential that parents and other grown-ups take the time to listen without judgment to teenagers who are struggling, providing them with love and support while also steering them toward professional help if needed. Schools also play an essential role when it comes to addressing mental health issues among their students, by offering counseling services, educating students about maintaining good mental health habits and creating a supportive atmosphere free from shaming or bullying. Mental health should not be taboo for high school students — instead of stigmatizing it, we should provide the help necessary to keep our teens healthy and thriving.

Mental health issues can be difficult to detect in high school students, but there are certain red flags that parents and educators should pay attention to. Some potential warning signs include withdrawal from friends, activities, or hobbies; sudden changes in behaviors such as sleeping more or skipping meals; feelings of worthlessness or sadness; irritability or restlessness; dark thoughts; difficulties concentrating; drastic decline in grades; increased complaints of physical ailments like headaches and stomachaches; and a low self-image. While these symptoms could also be indicative of stress or other common issues associated with the teenage years if they persist they may indicate a mental health concern that requires professional help. It is important for those who work with young people regularly to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health problems so they can take steps toward proper diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.

Many teenagers struggle with stress, so it’s essential to know how to help. The first step is to be able to recognize when a teenager is feeling stressed. It might be challenging for them to voice these feelings, so make sure to pay special attention and ask if they would like to talk about it. Common signs of stress are avoiding social situations, changes in eating habits, having trouble sleeping, more aggressive behavior, and trouble concentrating. Once a teenager has identified their own stressors, there are a few helpful ways that can be taken to alleviate the stress. Employing healthy self-care such as exercise and meditation can be very beneficial in providing both short-term relief as well as long-term well-being. Additionally, it may help if parents provide emotional support by listening without judgment and offering encouragement or advice when appropriate. Making sure teens have their own time or space away from their family could also help reduce stress levels — teenagers need time alone with their friends or doing independent activities they enjoy like art or music. Teaching teens coping mechanisms such as problem-solving, positive self-talk, journaling, and managing time wisely could also promote healthy strategies for dealing with stressful situations. Keeping open lines of communication between parents and teens is the most vital part of helping them identify and cope with their stress effectively.  Understanding how to manage stress will spare a lot of anguish during this often tumultuous stage of growth.  It takes plenty of practice but will create a healthier lifestyle for both parents and teens alike!