Mental health is just as important as physical health. From childhood to adulthood, mental illness can affect every stage. Still, taking care of the mind can lead to a more positive lifestyle.
“Mental health is based on someone’s emotional well-being, how someone feels or perceives something; it really drives how invested you are in something or how you feel about yourself going into a situation. When you have a healthy mental and emotional state, I feel like you’re able to make better decisions and reach your full potential,” explained Joseph Tella, NFA school counselor.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. For children aged 8–15, the estimate is 13%.”
Whether it is at school or home, students often find themselves under a lot of stress and pressure when juggling academics and dealing with personal conflicts.
“When I’m stressed, I tend to have a bad outlook on situations. Time management keeps me organized, and even going to the gym can help relieve stress for me,” said senior Lindsay McCaslin.
Even spending time alone focused on a favorite hobby can be a great way to unwind.
“What really helps me is writing, because it just calms me down. I love going outside for a walk to get fresh air, and just doing any activities that make me happy,” explained senior Kyle Gumboc.
Knowing when someone is struggling with his or her mental health offers a chance for people to reach out, because communicating feelings can lead to getting the right kind of help. NFA senior, Samantha Moore has a reliable support system she can lean on.
“I usually talk to my friends because a lot of the times, especially with school, they probably are going through the same problems as I am. I would also feel comfortable going to my mom or sister, because I’m really close with them.”
NFA school psychologist, Arikka Kalwara, agrees, “Have a trusting adult in your life, so that you can reach out is very important. Whether it’s a friend or relative, keep them close to you. Nobody’s going to look out for you except for you. When something is not right, there’s no shame in that. Everyone has things they struggle through in life, and to access health is the smart thing to do. It’s the emotionally intelligent thing to do.”
Teachers also check up on their students if they believe they are struggling with their mental health.
“I usually know if my students are too stressed, because, especially in AP Psychology, they put a lot of pressure on themselves. I’ll notice a personality shift sometimes, and I will ask them how they are feeling. People who are suffering from any mental health issues should have the same level of comfortableness with reaching out to someone if something’s wrong, as they would if it was a physical problem,” said Geraldine Donahue, NFA social studies teacher.
“If you have a good balance between feelings, emotions, and behaviors, that’s often a good predictor of happiness, success, and fulfillment,” Kalwara said.
There is often a stigma associated with mental illness that make individuals feel isolated, and sometimes prevents them from seeking treatment. NFA offers multiple psychologists, counselors, and therapists who are available to offer their advice and guide students towards the help they need. Together, raising awareness of mental health by comfortably speaking about it can create a more accepting society.