Depression, Anxiety and Mental Health: How are High School Students Affected?

There is often a stigma around mental health and its effect on society however it desperately needs to be talked about especially now.


World Federation for Mental Health

Olivia Macdonald, News Editor

   On September 7, 2018, rapper Mac Miller was pronounced dead due to a drug overdose. It was later discovered that Miller had been battling depression since August 2015.

  He found relief from his pain through administering drugs and drinking heavily. Sadly, Miller is not the only person who has suffered this fate.

  Death due to depression is not a new problem. Mental illnesses have been claiming lives for hundreds of years. Those who suffer from mental illnesses rely upon unhealthy coping mechanisms in order to escape their pain. Every year over 88,000 people die due to alcohol related deaths in the United States.

  Unfortunately for some, those unhealthy habits are their only form of escape.

  In today’s society there is a stigma behind the diagnosis of depression. Those who have it are seen as “broken” or “lazy.”  There is the common idea that people with depression aren’t truly depressed, they’re just sad and overreacting. The same stigma applies to those with anxiety; they don’t have a mental illness, they just worry too much.

  It’s issues like this which cause so many people to take their own lives rather than seek out the help they need. They would rather suffer than let others know there is “something wrong with them.”

     Depression is not an uncommon occurrence with High School teens. In 2016, it was reported that 3.1 million teenagers experienced at least one depressive episode that year. However, only 19% of those teens received treatment.

  The reasons behind these depressive episodes vary. Some blame it on school stress, addiction to social media, or genetics. Unfortunately there’s failure in recognizing mental illness in teenagers.

    Schools in America are known to put physical ailments over mental ones. If you can’t see the disease then it must not exist.

  Teens need to be able to embrace their illness, there should be no shame behind who they are. People with depression shouldn’t be viewed as people who don’t know how to laugh, and people with bipolar disorder should not be viewed as people you can’t be friends with.

  Mental disorders affect everyone, celebrities and regular people alike.

  On August 11, 2014, the world lost comedian Robin Williams after he had lost his battle to depression. He hanged himself in his home in California.

  He was known to openly speak about his battle, “I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.”

  Conan O’Brien, another comedian, is also known to be open about his battle with depression. “There’s no cure for getting depressed. There’s no cure for self-loathing or periods of it. But figure out enough about it so that when it happens, you can get over it and keep moving and just accomplish more.”

  O’Brien is known for basing most of his comedy off his depression, “all my jokes have a dark tone to them and it’s really just an outlet for my misery.” He has since started to take medication for his clinical depression.

    But it’s not just comedians being diagnosed with depression. Actor Chris Evans revealed that when he first starting working for Marvel he faced serious anxiety. His form of therapy was his new personal mantra, “You can’t make decisions based on fear.”

  There is no need to be afraid of what you’ve been diagnosed with or what you’re experiencing.

  If you are worried about asking for help from your parents or friends, you can find the help you need right at school or online.

   School Guidance Counselor Michelle Cole empathized with those affected by mental illnesses. “You can’t make mistakes now cause they’re going to mess you up and really that is not accurate,” she said.

  Cole stressed the importance of asking for help, “There’s something about us that is hard to admit that maybe we need some help with something,” she continued saying that “having a strong relationship with somebody is so important.”

  Cole shared some warning signs of depression to be aware of:

  “Having a really sad mood that lasts for more than two weeks… the things that used to bring you enjoyment you’re just not interested in anymore… and any kind of suicidal ideation.”

  However every high school student has experienced their peers joking about suicide following a bad test grade or drama with friends. But as far as Cole is concerned, it is important to know the difference between a joke and a serious concern.

“Hopefully you know someone well enough to know whether or not their just joking, people do joke like that and have forever,” she said.

  If you feel like your friend is no longer joking and you’re concerned for their wellbeing, it’s okay to just ask them about it. “The right thing to do is ask, it’s very uncomfortable and you can just be very direct by asking ‘Do you really feel that way?’” Cole said.

  If you notice someone experiencing these concerns or you yourself are, it’s okay to ask for help and it’s okay to recognize that you need help.

  It’s important to remember if you feel like you need to talk someone, any trusted adult is okay to confide in whether it’s a teacher or an advisor or even a coach.

  An amazing resource to use if you don’t feel comfortable with talking to someone is utilizing web-based help. But it’s never okay to look for help through drugs or alcohol.


National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line: text CONNECT to 741741