By Zandrea Evans
San Antonio, Texas
Young people are under so much pressure to surpass their peers. They’re anxious. They’re depressed. You don’t need scientific studies to prove this. The evidence is walking around America’s high schools.
I attend a school with an intensive curriculum. Schools like mine do help prepare students for the challenges of college, such as approaching teachers for help and developing critical thinking skills. However, they cause many students to develop mental health issues at a young age. According to a study by the American Psychological Association in 2018, members of Generation Z (ages 15 to 21) are the generation least likely to describe their mental health as “excellent or very good.”
My peers and I suffer from excessive stress that comes from at least five hours of homework a night—not including studying for tests and quizzes. In 2009, high school seniors took an average of 3.6 more credits than they did in 1990, according to The National Center for Educational Statistics.
On top of that, the pressure for students to score well on standardized tests like the SAT, AP, and ACT exams heightens stress levels. Some students find themselves stuck taking a slew of exams with little time to study. For instance, as a junior, I needed to study for the ACT and three SAT subject tests on top of the homework that came with my five AP classes. Because of the pressure high school students are constantly under, anxious and depressive statements are common. There are even memes about the prevalence of suicide jokes made by young adults.
This is an issue that should concern schools across the country, many of which are without a designated mental health counselor. The Washington Post recently reported that, in public schools, there is one psychologist for every 1,381 students. The National Association of School Psychologists recommends one for every 500 to 700 students. By not giving students the proper tools to deal with their mental health issues, schools negate their efforts to push students to higher levels of achievement. Mental health problems can hurt students’ grades, relationships, and quality of life.
The mental health of students is of vital importance, not just for their well-being, but for society’s. Today’s overtaxed teenagers will be tomorrow’s leaders.