Diving Deep into Mental Health

Mental and emotional stability is beneficial at any age, but it is extremely crucial for teenagers.


TWO FACED: Anxiety disorders are the most common of all illnesses. “The world is much more fast paced, teens feel like they need to constantly catch up,” Campus Supervisor Mike Luttenegger said. About 25 percent of teens are affected by this disorder.

Teenagers face a lot of stress and struggles, especially growing up in a technology-driven, social-media-ridden world. A series of talks the newspaper staff had inspired a series all about what mental wellbeing truly is and what students can do to improve it. 

“Mental health specializes in research and best practice for maintaining healthy ways of managing stress, emotions, thoughts and other components of mental impact on our daily lives,” school psychologist Kay Kelly said. 

A key part of maintaining mental fitness is developing methods of managing all the chaos that goes on in our minds constantly. 

“It is important to recognize and de-stigmatize mental health and wellbeing to allow individuals the space to access healthcare support as well as remove barriers in seeking healthcare for proactive support,” Kelly said. 

The term mental health is not just about actively making sure you are not insane and that you do not have any mental illnesses; it is not always quite that intense. 

“It [stable mental health] is especially important for young adolescents as they have not had the time to experience and activate healthy coping strategies when dealing with mental distress and the full development of a person’s frontal lobe, which is responsible for emotional regulation and rational decision making is age 25,” Kelly said. 

Mental and emotional stability is beneficial at any age, but it is extremely crucial for teenagers to put a lot of focus on their mental health, as during those ages your brain is still developing. 

“From my experience, the most distress at school is related to meeting expectations of a certain grade, peer conflicts, dealing with past trauma or distress outside of school that impacts concentration, managing identified mental diagnosis while balancing school demands, and dealing with lingering negative experiences from past school situations,” Kelly said. 

There are multiple factors that contribute to the way a student feels and acts. Kelly said that while genetics, environmental aspects, significant experiences, relationships, and turning to unhealthy coping habits definitely play a role, there is another impactful element; the historical stereotype around mental health that can discourage people from getting help.

“Students can reflect on past experiences of stress and how they worked through them, they can look for the impact of their mental state, or they can try and compare their levels of distress or mental unrest to a more common medical issue to help rationalize seeking support.  For example, I have been feeling sad, really sad for more than 2 weeks; if this was a cold that lasted over 2 weeks, I would go to the doctor. I should also go to the doctor to get checked out for my feelings of sadness,” Kelly said. 

There is no right or wrong way to cope as long as it does not do more damage, and there are hundreds of healthy methods to turn to when you are feeling helpless. 

“Speak to a trusted adult, if you don’t have a go-to trusted adult then come speak to myself or any counselor/principal/teacher in their building.  It can be hard to imagine that things will change or get better, but there is support here for you and strategies to try to help lessen the impact of elevated mental distress and work towards a quality of life that works for them and their goals,” Kelly said. 

The first step to making a change in the way you feel is speaking up. 

Mental health can be a very sensitive topic, but it does not have to be taboo or seen in a negative light; in fact, taking care of yourself in all components of your being is a great practice. Things can always get better, and you have an endless amount of ways to receive help if you take the first step. Prioritizing mental wellbeing is crucial for everyone, particularly high school students.