Did you know that mental health is as important as physical health, especially during the roller coaster ride of high school? Whether you’re a teenage student or you have teenage children, it can be seen that everything is changing so fast – be it our body, our emotions, or the way we think – it’s all part of growing up. But sometimes, this can become a bit too much, leading to mental health issues. How about we take a closer look at these issues, and their causes and see what we can do to manage them? Let’s dive into the top three mental health causes faced by high school students and explore some pretty neat strategies to deal with them.
Top 3 Causes of Mental Health in High School Students
In this section, we’re going to learn about the top three causes related to mental health issues in high school students:
Anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, and panic disorder, are common among high school students. With academic pressures, social issues, and the transition into adulthood, it’s no surprise that students might feel overwhelmed. These disorders can result in restlessness, difficulty concentrating, and even physical symptoms like headaches or stomachaches. Anxiety disorders can significantly affect high school students in a number of ways:
- Academic Performance: Anxiety can make it difficult for students to concentrate, remember things, and make decisions, all of which can impact their academic performance. Test anxiety is a common manifestation where students experience extreme distress and anxiety in testing situations, which can hinder their performance and learning.
- Social Interactions: Social anxiety disorder can cause students to avoid social situations and interactions due to intense fear of being judged or embarrassed. This avoidance can lead to isolation and difficulties in making and maintaining friendships.
- Excessive Worry: Generalized anxiety disorder involves excessive worry about everyday events. This constant worry can consume a lot of mental energy, leaving students feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.
- Avoidance Behaviour: Students with anxiety disorders may try to avoid situations or activities that trigger their anxiety. This avoidance can limit their experiences and opportunities, both academically and socially.
- Sleep Problems: Anxiety often leads to difficulties falling asleep or staying asleep. Insufficient sleep can further exacerbate anxiety symptoms, and can also negatively affect cognitive function and mood.
Depression is a significant concern among teenagers. It goes beyond occasional blues or mood swings. Persistent feelings of sadness, apathy, or lack of interest in activities they once enjoyed are typical signs.
Depression can have profound effects on high school students, impacting their lives in numerous ways:
- Academic Performance: Depression can cause difficulties with concentration, decision-making, and memory, all of which can negatively affect a student’s academic performance. Prolonged periods of low mood might also lead to a lack of motivation or interest in schoolwork.
- Social Interaction: Depressed students may withdraw from friends and family and lose interest in activities they previously enjoyed. This isolation can further compound their feelings of sadness and loneliness.
- Physical Health: Depression often brings about changes in appetite and sleep patterns. Students may experience insomnia or oversleeping, as well as overeating or loss of appetite. These changes can lead to physical health issues like weight loss or gain and chronic fatigue.
- Self-Esteem and Self-Worth: Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or guilt can severely affect a student’s self-esteem. They may develop a negative self-image, feeling worthless or blaming themselves for perceived failures.
- Risky Behavior: In some cases, depression can lead to risky behavior such as substance abuse, reckless driving, etc. This could be a form of self-medication or a way to escape their feelings.
- Suicidal Ideation: In severe cases, depression can lead to thoughts of death or suicide. It’s vital to take any talk or signs of suicide very seriously and seek immediate professional help.
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
ADHD is characterized by difficulties with attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. Students with ADHD might find it hard to focus on tasks, follow instructions, or stay organized, which can impact their academic performance and social interactions. Here are some of the ways in which ADHD impacts students’ mental health:
- Academic Challenges: Students with ADHD often struggle with maintaining focus and concentration, leading to difficulties with academic tasks, such as studying, completing homework, or paying attention during lectures. They may have trouble remembering assignments or organizing their work.
- Behavioral Issues: Impulsivity, a common characteristic of ADHD, can lead to disruptive behavior in the classroom. Students might blurt out answers, interrupt others, or have difficulty waiting their turn.
- Social Difficulties: Because of their impulsivity and hyperactivity, students with ADHD might struggle to fit in socially. They may face challenges in making and maintaining friendships, understanding social cues, or adapting to social norms.
- Low Self-esteem: The combined effect of academic, behavioral, and social challenges can lead to feelings of inadequacy, causing low self-esteem in students with ADHD. They may feel different from their peers or frustrated by their challenges, leading to feelings of depression or anxiety.
Solutions / Remedies
Addressing mental health issues requires a multi-faceted approach that includes therapy, medication when necessary, and lifestyle modifications. Here, we’ll introduce three practical techniques that can complement professional interventions.
1. Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management strategy where work is broken down into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes, separated by short breaks. However, those preparing for exams can increase these intervals to 50 minutes, allowing for a deeper focus on complex study materials, followed by a 5 or 10-minute break to refresh the mind and maintain productivity. This method can reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed by chunking tasks into manageable parts. It can lower anxiety and enhance focus, helping students tackle academic pressures more efficiently.
2. Walking during Pomodoro Breaks
To further leverage the Pomodoro Technique, consider incorporating physical activity into the short breaks. A quick walk during the 5-minute break can do wonders for both the body and mind. This practice shifts the focus from the mind to the body, allowing the brain to recharge. Walking stimulates the release of BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor), a protein that supports brain health, and endorphins, hormones that act as natural mood elevators. Regular walks can thus support sustained mental well-being by shifting the stress related to focus to physical activities which gets taken care by BDNF + endorphins.
3. Embracing the Zero Zone
The ‘zero zone’ is a concept rooted in mindfulness and self-awareness. It involves stepping away from the mental, physical, and social constructs that define us and exploring our deeper, true selves. To tap into the zero zone, ask the question, “Who am I?” This introspection can lead to a profound sense of peace and self-acceptance, acting as an antidote to anxiety, depression, and societal pressures.
Mental health issues among high school students are prevalent and demand our attention. Implementing the remedies suggested above can help manage these issues, fostering a balanced, healthy mindset. Remember, professional help should always be sought if mental health problems persist or escalate. It’s okay to seek help, and there are many resources available to support students and their families on this journey.