The Hidden Epidemic


Allie Sigl

Students suffer through mental health on their own when schools fail to see their students as people rather than academic statistics

Allie Sigl, Design Editor

As if the coronavirus pandemic was not enough, along with it comes another startling, hidden epidemic that has affected millions across the country.

Although more indistinguishable from its parent disease, the issue of student’s psychological well-being has finally come to fruition as it reaches an all-time low. According to the Centers of Disease Control, three out of four American high school students report mental health problems tied to the pandemic.

With unrealistic expectations from parents and schools to stay on top of work, despite being quarantined, the rise of anxiety and depression, and, well, a global pandemic, it seems fitting that this invisible epidemic has taken over students’ lives.

I end up sacrificing my personal time for school without being able to go out and breathe.”

— Student

“I feel like I began noticing the struggle the most this year,” one student said. “With all the COVID craziness, I noticed that at times, I am assigned so many things in such little time. I end up sacrificing my personal time for school without being able to go out and breathe.”

Unfortunately, the problem is not that schools are ignorant to mental health – as the topic has been around for decades – rather, they are incompetent on how to solve it.

Unlike math, there is no pragmatic solution to a universal concept such as mental health. Sure, one might throw together a PowerPoint or require adolescents to take a course on the topic, but what good are these strides if they cannot connect with the students themselves? At any rate, all these “solutions” do is take up unnecessary time without any real aid being provided.

Perhaps the real issue is the capabilities of teachers and faculty to recognize when a student is struggling. Although multiple helplines may be advertised, the number of students who physically seek counseling is only thirty percent in public education facilities.

Schools fail to realize that the actual act of discussing one’s psychological well-being is incomparable to talking about a grade and requires more student-teacher rapport than customary. It is a strange discovery to find that few teachers and faculty genuinely understand students enough to create a relationship, despite spending every day around them.

In a building of thousands, some students struggle to find themselves as more than just academic statistics.

Because of the coronavirus’s effect on students’ mentalities, it is more impertinent than ever to evaluate and understand adolescents and their emotions. Spreading awareness is one of the first steps to addressing the problem concerning mental health during the coronavirus.

Another step is to notice warning signs students may show of anxiety, depression, or other changes. To invoke any difference, one must first understand a student beyond academic standards. It is crucial to comprehend that an “A” in one’s class is not enough reason to dissuade students’ feelings. Moreover, more teachers must learn to prioritize mental well-being over numerical grades.

At any rate, acknowledging there is a problem is one of the first steps to fixing one. Struggles with mental health are inevitable in any situation, and sometimes there is no permeant solution. However, showing students that they have a support system and are not alone may be the difference between genuinely making a difference or becoming another statistic.