Academic Pressure Elevating Mental Health Concerns

Anjali Kok, Staff Writer

   School can be daunting; every student understands how stressful high school life is. But when you’re balancing mental health on top of everything else it becomes a challenge.

   Hannah Bradley, a senior who has anxiety, depression and PTSD, opened up about the stress that comes with preparing for college while balancing school, her hobbies and mental health.

“I’ve tried to not let these define me because some days it’s more or less my mental illness defining me. It’s just being patient with myself and taking the time out of everyday that is necessary to heal and keep going,” Bradley said. “It’s not something that can be done in a day or a year, but it’s a lifetime commitment. Mental health is just something that needs to be worked at.”

Bradley overheard a student in her AP Language and Composition class state that the teachers put too much weight on grades, GPAs and AP classes. However, AP Lang. teacher Andrea Dales asked them if it was the teachers and school having them believe it is more important or themselves.

“I had to take a step back from it all, it was getting too overwhelming but I do think it’s an issue at this school. The competition between students as they try to be the best they can and get rewarded for it,” Bradley said. “There’s a lot of issues with people who don’t try as hard or don’t find fulfilling meaning in working or education. They don’t get told ‘If this is all you can do, that’s good and enough.’ but they get put on the back burner.”

   Instead of ending the competition, Bradley believes that decreasing the severity of competition amongst students would be beneficial. Grades are very important and that was made clear freshman year as the title ‘Valedictorian’ was thrown around along with GPA as people started to care and put more effort towards it.

“A lot of times students get overwhelmed by the magnitude of their issues and living in this school life surrounded by these four walls that we always see and had to develop a lot of coping mechanisms to just exist. But the world is a bright, beautiful place, it’s so big and deserves to be explored by everybody, ” Bradley said. “I recommend setting goals, writing positive affirmations, being patient and reminding yourself that ‘it’s okay to feel sad, it’s okay to feel upset’ but how you respond to your emotions is the defining moment.”

   Senior Macy Millican has a 504 plan for her generalized anxiety, social anxiety and panic disorder. The plan allows her to have ear plugs to block out the noise and a specific signal to notify her teachers in the case of a panic attack. Though a 504 plan is only one of the many ways a student can receive help.

   “A lot of people say therapy doesn’t help but it really does. It doesn’t even have to be going to an actual therapist,” Millican said. “It can be like talking to the school therapist or a teacher that you trust or even talking to one of your friends.”