The Impact Of Depression And Anxiety On High School Students

Havana Garrett

With “I want to die” becoming a common phrase thrown around the halls in sarcastic anguish everytime someone feels like they got a B on their math test, it’s hard not to feel like everyone is making light of the mental health crisis. 1 out of 4 people will suffer from a mental health issue. But with stigma raised high against mental health, nobody wants to talk about their mental illness, and that’s exactly why it should be talked about.

When it comes to depression it’s hard to know what to look for. Caley Featherstone, a licensed therapist, explained, “Warning signs are isolation, withdrawal, fatigue, decreased or increased appetite, lack of or increase in sleep, irritability, feeling keyed up or on edge, not finding pleasure in things that previously did bring pleasure, weight loss or weight gain, restlessness, fidgeting, trouble concentrating, aches and pains, loss of interest or pleasure, digestive issues, feelings of worthlessness, persistent worrying, racing thoughts, difficulty concentrating…this is in no way an exhaustive list, just some things to look for.”

There is a significant stigma that comes with the label of mental illness, a thing that stops a lot of people from getting help.

“Stigma keeps people sick. The more we open the door and hold a space for someone, the more apt people are to talk about what’s going on and get better. We don’t shun people for having physical illnesses and tell them to ‘just get better’ No, we tell them to seek professional help and support them in doing so. The brain is no different. It requires professional help and support like any other illness.”

“It’s important to learn about mental health because everyone has mental health, just as we have physical health. When we are ignorant to physical illnesses, we are more prone to get sick (like not wearing sunscreen to prevent skin cancer). When we know the signs of mental illness we can work to prevent and decrease the impact of the illness. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in teens- we should be doing everything we can to prevent something that is 100% preventable because it affects everyone.”

When it comes to depression and anxiety, nobody understands it quite like somebody who has experienced them. ChloeAnne Fox is a sophomore at Boise High, a cheerleader, and a victim of mental illness.

She’s made a lot of progress since she was first diagnosed. “It took me a while to get there, I see a therapist and so that helps and I’ve been seeing her for almost three years. For the first year, I was very standoffish with her, but then she made me realize that it’s okay to have mental health issues going on [as long as I was getting help]”.       Mental health is something that a lot of people hide, and are ashamed of. “I don’t think people should hide it at all. It’s kind of like regular health, you don’t try to hide when you’re sick or if you have a sprained ankle, so you shouldn’t try to hide your mental health either.” Since seeing a therapist she has found a few ways of dealing with her mental health issues. “Therapy helps, a lot. And I’m still learning how to cope with everything. Music helps, focussing on something that you’re really passionate about, which sounds cheesy, but it works.”

She has a lot to say about the misconceptions that surround mental illness.“A misconception is that medicine can heal it, and it won’t. Talking helps, and you need to work through it… Another thing I’ve heard is if people see someone in a rough situation they can be like ‘oh, they’re just having a rough day’ but you really don’t know… I wish people knew that it was okay to check in once and a while, and ask how they’re doing, and really ask.”

Overall, the most important thing is to check in and make sure people are doing okay. If you suspect that you or one of your friends may be struggling with mental health concerns, check in on them and help them find help.

When it comes to depression or anxiety, more people are struggling than you know. Working to remove the stigma forms mental illness is an important step we can take to make everyone feel more accepted, understood, and ultimately healthier.