How Does School Better or Worsen Mental Health?


Sad girl on a swing. Free public domain CC0 photo.

High school can have a significant impact on a teenager’s mental health, both being positive and negative. On one point of view, school can provide a safe place for some students by giving them a break from being home, opportunities to make friends, explore new interests and hobbies, and gain a sense of purpose. However, school may also be a challenge for other students, with academic pressures, social pressures, and other stressors.

I interviewed two students who go to Huntington High School to get other perspectives on this topic. One being a ninth grader and the other a twelfth grader. My first question was “How has your mental health changed from the beginning of high school to now?” Student one responded, “More optimistic.” While Student two replied with “I’m better at getting up in the mornings, and I’ve seen an increase in my motivation.”

Question two being “Would you say teachers have an impact on your mental health. If so, how?” Student one responded with, “Some teachers are disrespectful and obnoxious, they make school a lot more complicated for me, while other teachers respect me and give me the help I’m searching for.” While student two replied with “No not really, I don’t like most teachers at this school.”

And finally, the 3rd question was, “Do you think HHS gives a good healthy environment to talk about your mental health?” Student one replied earnestly with “Not really, there isn’t really anybody to talk to or anybody I deem trustworthy.” Student two responded straight-forwardly, similarly saying “No, nobody seems trustworthy.”

After talking with these students, I then interviewed a guidance counselor at HHS. My first question being. “Do you think most kids come to see you or seek help?” she responded with “Yes, once they’re more comfortable with the counselor they tend to speak up more often and become more trustful.” My second question being “How do you feel about your role as the guidance counselor?’’ she said, “I love it I picked it because I believe its very important and mental health is always a priority.” My third question being, “How do you think most kids react in a stressful situation?” She replied with, “It really just depends on the student and the students’ coping mechanisms.”

There are multiple ways for schools to help students understand and better their mental health. Including but not limited, school counselors and even teachers that make students feel comfortable talking about their mental health and challenges students may be going through. Another way schools can help is by paying attention to their students and to bullying. Lots of students hate school due to many issues, like bullying. If schools fail to address these issues, or if they create a culture of competition, stress, and negativity it could facilitate the worsening of a student’s mental health.

There are various academic pressures that may put on stress such as high-stake testing, harsh deadlines, etc. Things such as these can create anxiety and cause depression or make a student feel they are not good enough if they fail. In conclusion, high school can better or worse a teenager’s mental health, depending on how well the school supports students’ mental health and well-being. By providing access to mental health resources and support, creating a culture of openness and support, and addressing the root causes of stress and anxiety, high schools can help students thrive both academically and emotionally.