In recent years, there has been an uproar about students’ mental health rapidly declining. Just in the past 25 years, rates of depression and anxiety have increased by 70 percent, and the number of children and young adults showing up in emergency rooms for mental illness has doubled since 2009. There are multiple reasons for this; however, the most noted ones are sleep deprivation and peer pressure.
Sleep deprivation increases the likelihood that teens will suffer negative consequences, including an inability to concentrate, poor grades, drowsy driving incidents, anxiety, depression and thoughts of suicide. A recent study by the University of Rochester Medical Center suggests that early school start times could be a high point of interest when it comes to teens not getting enough sleep. The study showed that students who start school before 8:30 a.m. had higher symptoms of anxiety and depression than students who started school afterward.
Another factor of mental illness is peer pressure. Although school is meant to educate adolescents, it is also a place where students develop relationships with many different people, join clubs and participate in a variety of different activities. Peer pressure often falls upon the shoulders of the vast majority of teens. Teens will often fall in a friend group where they are surrounded in many different choices, including trying drugs and alcohol. The use of drugs can lead to changes of the brain, which leads to symptoms of mental illness, including paranoia, hallucinations, aggression, depression and anxiety. In addition, having so many choices can really have a negative effect on confidence in teens causing symptoms of depression.
Alas, social stigma around mental illness still exists among people of all ages. Consequently, students often hesitate to seek assistance for mental illnesses. For example, in 2016, approximately 60 percent of teens who suffered a major depressive episode did not receive treatment of any kind. In order to counteract adolescent depression in schools and the resulting stigma, teens, teachers and parents must learn about mental health together. With increased education and awareness, they will be better equipped to help others, offer support, and even, in extreme circumstances, save lives. Through this, these detrimental issues can be reduced and even removed from the equation altogether.