Over 17 million children in the U.S. under 18 have or have had a diagnosable psychiatric disorder, 32% of which are anxiety disorders. Parental expectations, coupled with demanding academic curricula, appears to convey to students that the main purpose of their high school experience is admission to a selective college or university; this futurist-oriented culture may push some students to use substances to cope with their stress.
“Mental Health Awareness week sheds light on mental issues and the importance of mental health,” an anonymous junior said. “It’s critical to teach people at a young age, especially teenagers because most people are oblivious to these issues and disorders until they are diagnosed.”
Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from November 7th to November 11th.
“I don’t think a lot of kids take it seriously, which is kind of ironic since so many of the kids at school experience anxiety and depression, or some other form of mental issues,” the junior said. “I know that academic and school anxiety permeates through the school, and it could be helpful to discuss and learn about it.”
The main theme of the week is “stamping out the stigma” and giving people a different view on what mental health is.
“I think everyone in high school is always going through something,” Junior Alexis Atencio said. “Even though it may not seem like it, everyone has something they’re struggling with.”
Mental Health Awareness week is conducted by the Counseling and Mental Health students, VHS teachers, counselors, and administration.
“My students and other students across VHS have offered their help and support and even offered to share their stories,” Mental Health and Counseling teacher Jodi Jacobsen said. “This makes me so proud of the student body at VHS. This has been a very humbling and powerful experience and I am grateful to be a part of it.”
Jacobsen believes that in order to make a positive impact, it requires everyone to be supportive and open-minded.
“I personally deal with anxiety and depression mainly influenced by school and grades,” an anonymous source said. “I take medication for it and go to therapy, and I think professional help is an important topic to discuss. Medication and therapy is frowned upon, however, it’s so helpful and important to take care of yourself.”
Mental Health Awareness Week will include theme days, wristbands, and PIT classes that allow a breather from academics such as yoga, coloring, and dancing. For more detailed information about individual theme days and PIT room numbers, visit the guidance and counseling page on the school’s website.