Photo by Shannon Pothen
Every student has felt that feeling, thinking about a test or project that is due tomorrow. Their hands get sweaty, their heartbeat quickens. Stress, the feeling that students are feeling more and more often. These feelings are causing more students to feel overwhelmed and depressed. This is leading to students finding resources and outlets to relieve and find solutions to their feelings.
According to the CDC, more than one and three high school students has experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness in 2019, a 40% increase from 2009. Many things have led to this increase, social media, school and especially this last year has caused many people to feel isolated or alone.
“Now that we’re all in person, there’s the added factors of the stresses of COVID,” junior Anna Kneeskern explained. “And the fact that they’re not mandating masks anymore, on top of social changes and the fact that the last time people had a full school year was for me in eighth grade, which makes it very difficult to be in the full swing of high school and wondering if is high school always supposed to be be this hard?”
It is not just Kneeskern that feels this way. Many students not just in our own high school, but around the country have had a difficult time returning to school after last year. Students have been struggling to readjust back to how school was before the three period class days and having hybrid and online school.
School counselor Sydney Piras explained that students returning to school this year have to build their tolerance back up because of the change from six to three back to six hours a day.
Students can find resources at school through the Wellness Center and school counselors. Talking with professional and trusted adults can help students work out what is causing their stress and what they can do to try and stop it.
“I can just be someone to listen to what’s going on, and for some people that’s really just what they need. Just someone that’s not a parent or a teacher or coach, a middle person that’s non judgmental or bias,” Piras said.
To help students deal with their stress, counselors have been working with students to have strategies to mitigate these feelings by using time management skills, asking how they are using their time in and out of school, mindfulness skills and calming exercises.
Piras explained that she asks the student she works with to think about “how are they spending their current time,” sometimes having students keep track of their time for the whole week, finding where there is space and how to structure their day. But “also making sure there’s some balance in there. So making sure that there’s some things that we enjoy.”
Persistent stress not only affects students grades or school work, poor mental health can impact students decision making which goes hand in hand with increased behavioral risks. Feeling overwhelmed by homework can be a cause of this for students.
To help with this, teachers like Kevin Klancher, psychology and history teacher explained, “We look at the assignments and say, let’s just focus on these few things and then we’ll just start to whittling away and don’t feel like you have to get everything done at once.”
“I think the pandemic and everything, mental health, anxiety and stress has brought on a lot of things for students. At least that’s what we’re seeing. It’ll be interesting to see moving forward if we adapt and do some things differently as a result,” Klancher added.