WHAT YOUTH THINK
As part of my research, I interviewed five of my peers, all of which would prefer anonymity, with the intent of hearing about their opinions and beliefs regarding mental health. Unsurprisingly, each individual has different answers to each question, but I tried my best to consolidate their responses.
1. What do you think is the stigma surrounding mental health in high schools today, and what do you think needs to change, if anything?
My peers talked about how the stigma behind mental health is that many high schoolers today are not comfortable with talking about it in their day to day life because it does not align with the social norms regarding what is “cool.” Although schools have assemblies preaching the importance of mental health, most students fail to take them seriously because it does not fit in the social construct of popularity and fitting in.
2. Do you think mental help is accessible for you personally? Why or why not? What about in general?
Generally, everyone has different situations regarding access to help with mental health in schools. My school has a prominent center for wellness, but some of my peers admitted that they feel awkward or uncomfortable with actually seeking help there. One of my peers attends a different school, and observed that the counselor at her school lacked prominence and accessibility. Overall, every school has a different situation.
3. Where does most of your mental struggle come from?
Everyone mentioned how most of their stress comes from the pressure they feel from school and/or extracurriculars wether it’s from parents, teachers, or self-imposed. Many high schoolers feel like they need to fit in and exude popularity without taking care of themselves mentally and physically.
4. Are there any particular processes or methods that have helped you?
My peers all agreed that talking to and being with friends greatly lifts their mental state when they are feeling down. Their go to is not professional help, rather it is simply surrounding themselves with friends they find comfort in.
WHAT MAKES A ROOM MORE COMFORTABLE/WELCOMING
BENEFITS OF GRATITUDE
WHAT TO TAKE AWAY…
I encourage you to use my research to make a difference. If you are a student in high school, then think about how you could make your own space on campus your own. You do not need to completely redesign a room; you can simply make an area comfortable and safe. If you are an adult, then think about the benefits of creating a room with a few welcoming or calming elements at school or at home. No matter your age, do not forget the benefits of gratitude. Speaking from personal experience with gratitude practices and combining knowledge from research and studies, being grateful has an unimaginable amount of positive impact on mental health. There are hundreds of high schools alone, so imagine the impact of simply spreading awareness about being grateful.
One last thought I would like to close with is that the topic of mental health cannot be forced onto anyone.
“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t force it to drink.”
Sometimes the subtle approach is most effective. Lectures or assemblies about mental health can stifle high school students, but simply creating a space for their relaxation and de-stressing can be enough. Pushing individuals to open up about their mental health too much can push them away from caring at all. I hope that this page inspires awareness or provides some insight for possible solutions.
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