Students’ mental health needs to be a priority


Students speak out about stress levels and mental health.

Emma Olson, Staff Writer

As life begins to bring itself back to a normal state, the pressure and expectations implicated on high school students in different aspects of our lives have seemed to return rapidly, but in increased measures, and with little to no room for excuses anymore. Not only are we feeling the demand of school being fully back in session, but sports, extracurriculars, as well as jobs have also, for the most part, returned to what we were previously accustomed to eighteen months ago. Our days consist of moving on from one commitment to the next, and a day of no homework or no practice has become not just a celebration, but a reverence to high school students. Yet, the hallways line themselves with posters expressing ideas like “Take time for yourself today” or “Your mental health matters.” But does your mental health really seem to matter to those adults around you if teachers want you to prioritize your academics, coaches want you to prioritize your sport, bosses want you to prioritize your job, and parents, of course, want you to prioritize a balance between it all? In a survey of about 65 students solely from Lincoln-Way Central conducted through a social media account, we begin to see that this question is prevalent throughout the school.

According to, “Adolescence is a very vital period that will determine how a person will view and interact with the world as an adult” and so of course, having a job as a teenager is nothing but ordinary, and in fact, just over 50% of students participating in our poll work at least one job. Typically, it was found that students work 2-3 days during the school week and on average from the hours of 4pm-8pm. More interestingly, 88.5% of participants are involved in an after-school activity, like a club or a sport, and nearly half recorded that they stay after school 5 days a week for an average of 2 hours. Not to mention those 70% of students who participate in a club or sport unaffiliated with the school, on average taking up 3 hours about 2-3 nights a week. The overwhelming diversity in statistics perfectly corresponds with the overload of expectations imposed on high school students. The widely known fact that young adults should get 8-10 hours of sleep each night is thus completely eradicated from the equation of a student’s daily life. From the entire survey, alarmingly, only 1 student responded that he/she gets a minimum of 8 hours of sleep every night, which compares to the average of 6 hours of sleep per night among the rest.

I find that the most important question here is whether these extreme implications of pressure are just part of being an involved high school student or if it is all simply too much for the adolescent brain to handle healthily. It is critical that high schoolers understand that the 4 years we spend here are not meant to be easy. We should anticipate changes in emotions, identity, grades, passions, relationships, etc. And in another light, high school has become so much more demanding now because the college system has become increasingly more competitive. Not to mention, the fact of the matter is that there are students out there who are simply just lazy and look for any excuse to make up for their lack of application in school. And for as much as teachers seem to try to reach out to figure out where that laziness or lack of discipline stems from, most students find that teachers do not fully grasp that we are supposed to have lives away from the school, making it progressively more difficult to do so.

However, I think that the deterioration of the mental health of students comes with the disappointment we feel in ourselves for not being able to fulfill every task put at hand. We live in a generation where parents pay big money for their 5-year-old child to attend weekly lessons to become the best player in little league. We live in a generation where the bigger and more prominent of a college you attend, the smarter and more successful you must be. We live in a generation where if you are not setting out to be a doctor, lawyer, professional athlete, etc, then you are somehow considered lesser of a person. And that is where I believe the fault lies. High school should be the time to experience that variety of life. It should be a time of trying out new things and not being so set on one thing your brain wants to explode. The fixation of students’ minds on the future should be minimized and we should start overwhelming ourselves with experiences and memories. But, alas, the pressure of school is inevitable and nothing that will ever go away…so how do we fix this problem?  Does the responsibility lie with the students?  The teachers?  The parents?  The institutions?  My guess is as good as yours, but I think it will it take a combination of all of these groups making mental health a priority.