When thinking about high school, most adults say it was the best four years of their lives. But when  asking teens or young adults, they will say it was a time of anxiety, stress, and depression.    

It is no secret that the rate of individuals living with a mental illness in America is on the rise. And that doesn’t even cover adolescence. Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experience a severe mental disorder at some point during their life, according to the National Alliance of Mental Health (nami.org). However, this doesn’t seem to ease the expectations set by everyone in their life. Between the 8 hours of school, 6 hours of homework, 5+ hours of work, and the 8 hours of sleep we are supposed to get every night, we have -3 hours to take care of our mental health. You either have to sacrifice your physical health and cut sleep, or your education.

Mental illness can also affect the way people cope with everyday life. Inability to concentrate and difficulty interacting with others are some issues that individuals run into. Because of the chemical imbalance in your brain, it can seem impossible to handle even the smallest of issues, often creating an intense over reaction, causing depressive episodes that can last several hours to several days.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, more than three million adolescents aged 12-17 reported at least one major depressive episode in the past year, and more than two million reported severe depression that impeded their daily functioning.

Looking at all these statistics, it’s no surprise that many kids in high school are struggling. Between the pressure put on them by teachers and peers, to the stress of trying to balance school, work, and other daily functions, a lot of students are cracking under the pressure. According to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, each year 44,193 Americans die by suicide.

Getting involved in school activities or being told to “snap out of it” will not cure depression. Adults and peers need to get educated on what depression actually is, instead of assuming that someone is “just a little down”. This mentality can create dangerous situations for the individuals suffering.

High school is a very trying time, especially for those who struggle with a mental illness. Though others in your life may not be the most helpful, there are resources to reach out to when things become too much. Even if you don’t feel suicidal, but feel like a danger to yourself, you can call the Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text 741-741 to talk to a crisis counselor.

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