Mental health issues facing high school students

photo by Lydia Wiggins

Stats from, a good place to go for help or guidance. The facts show that mental health has always been a problem but now people are starting to see the effects it can take when it goes untreated. It’s a serious problem that affects many of the people around us every day, and noticing it sooner can help ensure their health in the future.

by Abagayle Jones and Brian Reed

Meridian High School’s SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) program recently promoted mental health awareness by posting statistics and facts about mental health. According to those statistics and facts, between 20% and 30% of adolescents have one major depressive episode before they reach adulthood and approximately one in five young people suffer from a mental illness.

“I feel like it’s surrounding everybody, it’s in our families, it’s in our friends, it’s in our community,” said Jennifer Greenwood, Meridian High Schools Restorative Justice Coordinator.

According to the Center for Discovery, some experts believe teens have been raised to have unrealistic expectations. “Along with the messages from modern media sources that suggest that we should always feel good, they say many parents haven’t taught their kids the kind of coping skills they need to survive in chaotic times.”

A common theme students struggle with today in school is a combination of depression and anxiety.

“I do occasionally have a lot of depression, but recently it’s been a lot easier with people around the school,” said Marisa Hill, a sophomore at Meridian High School. Hill has learned to cope with her depression and anxiety through either music or talking to her friends at school to “try to get my mind off of it.” Hill feels the school has helped her learn to cope through people being there and willing to let you talk about your issues.

One of Greenwood’s challenges is to not be able to fix the problem right away. “It’s a long process, it takes a long time to get through things associated with mental illness,” said Greenwood.

When a student comes to Greenwood with a problem, there are two different ways to handle the issue. One way is called a crisis situation, during this circumstance, Greenwood seeks outside help immediately. Another way is to have recurring appointments to work out that specific issue on a more personal level.

McKenna Sullivan is another student at Meridian who suffers through her everyday life with anxiety and depression. She copes with her mental illnesses through sleep, music, and her boyfriend. “Last week I wasn’t at school, at all, because of everything. The school pretty much helped give me homework and all that.”

Greenwood likes being in touch with multiple different people. “Sometimes there are serious issues and it can appear kind of heavy, but I also see a lot of positive things,” said Greenwood.

Meridian student Madison Bingaman also deals with anxiety and depression. Her main coping mechanism is to listen to music, but she feels that there are other ways she copes with these issues. The way she copes with it at school is through her “friends, the people I sit with at lunch, they make me laugh and they make me forget about the things that are going on.”

“Knowing that what you say could in fact change someone’s perspective on themself is a rewarding thing for me,” said Greenwood.

On average, one person commits suicide every 16.2 minutes. Mental health issues are a real thing in today’s society and there are multiple options to receive help.

Anxiety disorders that do not receive treatment are linked to depression, school failure, and a two-fold increase in risk for substance use disorder. Only four percent of the total health care budget is spent on our mental health. Anxiety affects 30% of children and adolescents, 80% do not receive help. According to National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), just over half (50.6%) of children with a mental health condition aged eight to fifteen received mental health services in the previous year.