How High School Takes A Toll On A Teen’s Mental Health
Movies and TV shows may have given us high expectations of what the full highschool experience could be like. The trope of puppy love, making friends, ditching class, and proms are what most of us expected high school to be like walking through those doors.
But what those shows and movies never prepare you for is how bullying in real life, along with the pressures of student life, could affect how some teenagers function further down the line. A Netflix series like 13 Reasons Why only scratches the surface of how horrible a teen’s life could be during these vulnerable phases.
Many see high school as a contributor to teen depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) to name a few, and it’s not hard to see why. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the factors that make these 4 school years hell for several teenagers.
In high school, there’s an unspoken rule: don’t mess with the order.
Depending on your “clique”, your high school experience could either be easy-sailing or that of a loner’s. Teens fancy the idea of popularity, having lots of friends, but some feel there are requirements to obtain that.
Some feel they have to be funny to fit in or have some sort of social media presence. Others feel they need to have money, good looks, or be something they’re not, and end up losing sight of themselves in the process.
It’s glaring how this type of mentality can turn into a multitude of mental/physical illnesses. A girl trying to be skinny would starve herself and develop an eating disorder to fit in a size 6 dress. A boy would take steroids to be the “alpha” of a group but abuse it and have long-term effects later in life.
While these may not be school-specific, they are ever-present in a school setting, especially to those at such an impressionable age. It drains one’s life just to be socially accepted. You want teens to get better mentally? Break the order.
Is it hard to believe that even self-starters can’t handle a school day’s workload?
Teachers typically assign one to two assignments for the week in an ideal world, but more often than not, students get assigned 1-4 pages of homework each night.
In many cases, there’s simply not enough hours in a day. This is a major stress inducer for teens wanting to just surpass the normal and achieve greatness. There are many cases where a teen has a stress-induced panic attack over assignments with a near due date.
This is, of course, assuming a student was able to learn the material at the same pace as everyone else, which is rarely ever the case. A student’s motivation lies in the hands of a passionate professor, but most pass a paper around and expect a kid to learn that way. Teens even resort to “focus” drugs and run the risk of an overdose just to keep up with the lesson plan.
While the need for a high volume of assignments is up to debate, most teachers don’t create an environment for their students to learn or participate. It’s hard to find ambition in an angsty teen when the professor can’t muster the will to get them engaged in the activity.
Pressures to perform well, or the effect an ‘F’ has on a learning brain, definitely play a factor in how a teen develops.
Problems with Self-Esteem
As mentioned with social pressures, teens feel the need to look a certain way to “fit in”. The toll taken on a young teen’s mental health is without a doubt large, not to mention how gravely it affects a brain that is still developing. But there’s one truth that spans through our youth to adulthood and that is:
Kids are mean.
Especially during those early teen years, they can be brutally honest and aren’t afraid to hurt someone’s feelings, even someone close to them. And when you’re a teen, those words may stick with you long into your 30s.
It’s hard restoring a teen’s self-esteem once they’ve been picked on for so long. Teens resort to harming themselves or losing themselves in their own emotions. Talking to your child/friend and helping in recovering their confidence by reassuring comments and the like are key in how they handle such remarks later on.
Certain issues can be addressed if the teens feel strongly about it. Like in the case of someone being picked on for the size of their nose, there are things a parent can do.
Self-esteem is easily broken and difficult to bring back. Setting a foundation for your child/ friend is so important in how they develop and transition from teens to young adults.
The school years have a toll on teens’ mental health, and it’s way too large to ignore. Luckily, these schools have counselors students can talk with and discuss any threats or troubling experiences, but there’s always room for improvement. High school shouldn’t be as hard as it is, nor should it lead anyone to depression or anxiety. It should be a place where young minds grow and gain the knowledge they’ll use later on in their 20s.
While many factors can be attributed to authority figures or social constructs, perhaps learning not to take this phase so seriously can curve that cliche. These are, after all, the years in which you can get away with making mistakes. An assignment won’t make or break you, nor can another teen’s opinions define how you live your life.
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