Mental Health in High School

My school was a terrible place to have depression or anxiety or whatever.

For context: I went to one of the best schools in San Francisco, and certainly the best public high school. And at that school, it was sink or swim: they threw you in with the sharks and you had to survive on your own or not survive at all.

And I sort of survived. I got a bite taken out of me, but otherwise I made it through, and am going to my first choice college. Sure, I’m coming out of the place with depression, anxiety, social anxiety, etc. but I made it out alive.

Which considering how bad my school was at handling depression is a miracle. Now, we had a counseling department, like every good school, but there were maybe ten general counselors that catered to a school of 2,600 people. Add maybe 16 counselors there just to deal with mental health, and you had one counselor to every one hundred people. A 1:100 ratio. And that’s being generous.

So since the counselors had so much to deal with, whether or not they helped you was entirely your decision. When they called me in for a ‘check-in’ (because a teacher had said that I was looking a little down) all I had to say was that I was fine and they left me alone.

For me that turned out okay. But that wasn’t the case for everyone.

During my senior year, our school was shocked when one of the teachers committed suicide over Thanksgiving break. Now, it wasn’t a secret that she was depressed, but I still feel as if the school could have done more to help its staff.

But then not long after, a sophomore girl committed suicide. That one hit me harder. I hadn’t actually known the girl, but I saw a little of myself in her. I had been at the place she was at, and I barely escaped. I knew how hard it was to make it, and I knew how little the school had helped at that time. I figured they had probably even hurt a little. After all, the pressure was pretty brutal, and if a person didn’t have a good support system, it was easy to break.

And that’s a terrible thing. At a time when teen suicide is hitting a new high, we should be placing more emphasis on mental health in schools, and providing more resources. There should be effort put into helping people. But at my school at least, there wasn’t, maybe for lack of funding or because it wasn’t a priority. No matter the reason, however, it’s criminal. America’s students shouldn’t be subjected to that kind of pressure and stress. After all, we’re the future, and it’s probably not a good idea to send us into the world already messed up.

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