Teen’s Mental Health – An Ongoing Concern

Damian Cejka

Why do teens struggle with mental health issues? When’s the last time you have talked to a friend about their mental health? Asked how they were doing? Not very many people can provide an answer to these questions. Checking in on your friends and peers has a way bigger impact than you could imagine. Over the past few years more and more teens have been experiencing struggles with mental issues. It does not help that Covid 19 has also struck the same timeline, and has had the biggest impact on teens mental health. There are many other factors contributing to teens’ mental health, not just Covid 19. Everyone is aware of the mental health situation, but not everyone understands how serious the situation is. Teens do not have the confidence to reach out for help because they are afraid of being labeled. Teens would rather blend in with everyone else, than reach out for help and be considered different. The current environment that teens are facing has abruptly caused an increase in mental health problems.

Covid 19 has been a crucial effect to teen’s mental health

Coivd 19 has had the biggest impact on teens mental health because it has been constantly affecting their daily lives in an extreme manner. Many students at SPASH have experienced negative impacts throughout multiple aspects of their lives. Kenzie Mayer, a current senior SPASH student, has had many struggles lately because of Covid 19. “It’s just harder to go out and do things. It’s harder to do the activities that I enjoy and it’s made me feel like I’ve had to stay to myself a lot more”. Similar responses are shown with another SPASH senior, Cade Kurzinski. When asked about how Covid 19 has affected his daily life he stated: “There’s more restrictions, precautions, and the constant rules you have to follow are extremely annoying. So basically everything that involves my daily life.” There are many more teens throughout the world that are experiencing and trying to navigate the same type of negative impact from Covid 19.

Scientific research demonstrates and supports many reasons why teens around the world are currently struggling with adapting to Covid 19 procedures and guidelines. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), which is the largest scientific and professional organization dealing with psychologists and psychology, “No question, COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on everyone’s life and it will continue for some time. It has disrupted work, education, health care, economy, relationships, and other negative effects.” Covid 19 will still have an impact on teens for years to come. 

Students perception of teens mental health in school 

Nationwide schools all understand the concept of teens struggling with mental health, however, schools don’t necessarily understand that students struggle with this issue on a daily basis. Kenzie Mayer states, “I feel tired, but I try to keep myself in a good mood . . . I constantly feel stressed about school.” When asking her about what she thought of SPASH, when it comes to mental health awareness throughout the school, she stated, “They encourage it, but I don’t know if they take it seriously enough.” 

Cade Kurzinski also states, “Mainly, I have to say I’m tired. I also constantly feel stressed because of grades and turning in assignments because there’s constantly a due date. Also, there is no time to relax.” Later in the interview, when I asked him his opinion on SPASH’s mental health awareness, he stated, “ I don’t feel that this school shows mental health because they don’t talk about it.” Both students ultimately expressed concerns that deadlines and assignments seem to be a major stressor driving a student’s overall well being. They also voiced that mental health needs to be discussed more openly. 

This graph demonstrates a viewpoint, from the American Psychological Association 2020 survey, that teens are not enjoying their lives right now. More than eighty percent of teens are facing some sort of negative impact on their daily life because of the current school environment. The adaptation process is not currently benefiting students as expected.

Current school environments are not beneficial to students

Covid 19’s existence has forced schools to adapt and change the environment in order to operate. SPASH has made efforts to try and guide students through these changes, however, it could be argued that more is needed, especially for those who are struggling with mental health. Kristen Jensen, a guidance counselor at SPASH, agrees that there has been a huge increase in the amount of teens experiencing mental health problems, especially within SPASH. “Absolutely, I think that so many people have been affected because of the pandemic. Those that had mental health problems before have gotten worse . . . and teens have developed mental health issues lately.” Kristen Jensen, on average, sees around ten kids during the day which adds up to fifty kids throughout the week. Every student she has met, has talked about how they are experiencing some sort of struggle throughout their personal life. Overall, SPASH is not the only school struggling. 

The American Psychological Association demonstrates that many other high schools are facing the same sort of situation nationwide. According to the APA, 81% of teens were negatively impacted because of their transition back to high schools. 52% of teens stated that they lost their motivation, 49% of teens lost interest in clubs and extra activities, and 45% of teens are struggling with the ability to concentrate in an overall state of matter. Essentially teens are struggling to enjoy their daily life because they have lost interest in things that they normally have fun doing.

Teens are having trouble reaching out for help 

Teens are struggling to get help with mental health issues because of the limited access there is and teens are afraid to reach out for help. SPASH is capable of supporting teens and providing helpful ways in order to help them cope with their mental health issues. The only catch is that teens need to reach out first in order to receive the help. Receiving help in school is the easier option according to Kristen Jensen, who states, “Access to mental health resources out of school is really hard because there are so many people.” Even within the school, access to help is very limited because there’s only so many people who are qualified in order to professionally give out the help to the students. 

Cade Kurzinski does not believe that SPASH is the right place to go to help deal with his personal life. “I don’t feel comfortable. I feel like there are better people to talk to and go to when I need someone or something.” There are many more students throughout SPASH, and throughout many other high schools that feel the same exact way when it comes to reaching for help. 

No one is alone

Mental health awareness has always been shown throughout the school, however, very few know that it’s an actual problem for multiple students. SPASH’s mental health awareness has been the same for the past few years, even though more students are struggling with it lately. SPASH students need to realize that it’s okay to ask and reach out for help when it comes to dealing with mental health issues. SPASH counselors are trained and know how to handle students struggling with mental health problems. They will help students find things that they enjoy, help connect with family, help connect with friends, and will help provide opportunities that lead to a positive future. Overall, SPASH students need to understand that it’s okay to have mental health issues, and all you have to do is take the action of asking for help. Everyone will help guide you and make sure that you are not alone in your struggles.