Teen anxiety needs to be targeted

Story By McKenna Buehler

 Students of this generation are under an overwhelming amount of stress. Due to bullying, increased expectations and parental failures, more and more teenagers are developing mental health disorders because of school, parents, work, and social ostracization.

 According to National Allegiance to Mental Illness, one in five teenagers will develop a mental health disorder before they leave high school. Over half are mood disorders, such as depression, and slightly less than half have anxiety disorders. In addition, suicide is the third leading cause of death in teens.

 Schools need to take more serious action in preventing these health problems. There are classes on how to be physically healthy. Why are there none on how to be mentally healthy? Administration pushes teachers to assign onslaughts of work in order to prepare for standardized tests. This stresses students out and causes them to feel overwhelmed.

 Peers can be mean. Allowing bullying is a segue to an unhealthy student body. The anti-bullying programs currently in place are, quite honestly, complete nonsense. They blame the victim, and rather than punishing a student for calling another ‘stupid,’ they ask the victim, “Have you tried acting differently?” or “Kids will be kids; you’re fine.” This allows bullied children to slip through the cracks and suffer their 12 years of schooling in constant emotional pain. Clearly, this will lead to serious mental health problems later on.

 The number of activities students participate in can also be daunting. Kids are expected to get good grades, play sports, engage in school clubs and social activities, and sometimes even work a job. This constant state of business causes great mental distress. This can fester into a serious anxiety disorder.

 Parents will also influence the mental health of their child. If parents ignore their child’s signs of distress or choose to not address it out of embarrassment or otherwise, it only perpetuates the problem. Abusive or unsafe households are a major cause of emotional and mental problems.

 With some improvements to how teen stress is handled by schools and parents, mental health issues could drastically be reduced. By implementing classes and policies on mental health, schools could keep students from feeling overloaded. Having anti-bullying policies that actually target the problem would raise self-esteem and motivation. Teen stress is a fixable problem in schools and homes. 

I teach AP Language and Composition and Journalism at Cedar Cliff High School in Camp Hill, PA.

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