By Quinn Michaels
Lately in media, mental health has become a huge topic. From small things like how to deal with daily stressors to huge ordeals like the role that mental health played in the Parkland shooting. With a focus on mental health in media, how is it affecting high school students?
In 2015, 24.8 percent of Utah students reported that they felt sad or hopeless and 16.6 percent said they have seriously considered attempting suicide. These rates are some of the highest in the United States and they are on the rise. The factors that are cited most for these high numbers are social interaction and school.
“I feel like I have to be perfect. So if I’m not perfect, I feel horrible.” Junior Simone Bateman echoes the sentiments of many anxious students. School work and the pressures of maintaining a high GPA are major stressors for students. Socially, students are affected by many factors like social media, relationships, activities such as dances and more.
A huge part of the high depression and suicide rates in Utah is the LGBT population. Over 42.8 percent of LGBT youth have reported seriously thinking about attempting suicide. “LGBT depression and suicide rates are so high in Utah because the social climate is not as accepting as it should be,” said junior Hunter Ward, who is an openly gay teen. “I am fortunate enough to have a very accepting group of people around me, but I know a lot of kids where that’s not the case.”
Ward is right, many LGBT students reported bullying in school for their sexual orientation, and the school system does not do enough to help these students. Ward said that, “[In school] it’s hard because the school doesn’t have any measures put in place to help LGBT students feel welcome and comfortable and in health, for instance, they completely skip over homosexual relationships in sex ed unless they’re talking about diseases or stds associated with them.”
So with all of these factors contributing to large percentages of students struggling with their mental health, what are the schools doing? At Bonneville, we have access to school counselors, Hope Squad, Peerleaders, and the SafeUT app, but are those adequate enough to combat the high percentages? Many Lakers do not think so. Julie Matteson, the Peerleader adviser thinks that all of the resources already in place are just a start. “I think there needs to be more resources available for students who are struggling with mental health. The system needs to be changed and made easily available so students can seek out these options. I think we have come a long way with apps like Safe UT that help students get help more easily, but we need to do more.”
We still have a lot of measures we could be putting in place to help students who are struggling with their mental health especially because of school. Hopefully, others at the school and in the community recognize that and can help build resources for students who are struggling. Additionally that students recognize the role they play in helping each other out. We’re all in this together, so we might as well try to make it as much of a positive and inviting experience as possible. We are Lakers and we should do everything in our power to not contribute to the disturbingly high percentages of depression and suicides in the state, especially if we can prevent it.