The Struggle is Real for Teens Dealing with Mental Health Issues
by Madi A.
Since COVID-19, there has been significant growth in mental health awareness. But there has also been an even greater increase for teens, and their struggles with mental health. Before the pandemic, students in Colorado schools had already been dealing with their ‘unnoticed struggle’ but the worldwide crisis has raised more awareness about what students are truly experiencing.
A January article early this year by KUNC News discussed how the increased struggle of teens in Colorado is starting to be noticed more than ever. And Rocky Mountain High School is one of the first to be addressing the issues it’s teens are facing. Lily Dublin is one of the school's 33 peer counselors at RMHS, and she has seen the issues first hand. As a peer counselor, Dublin has witnessed firsthand what teens are struggling with. “...it’s a lot of anxiety, feeling really overwhelmed. There’s a lot of substance abuse happening. A lot of ‘It’s hard to get through the day without having these feelings and needing a quick feel better,” she told KUNC.
Not only are her peers struggling with anxiety and substance abuse, but according to counselors at RMHS, “Sometimes so many high school students are coming in for mental health support that students wanting to talk about college or careers just have to wait.”
And the struggle isn’t only at RMHS, but it has found another home at Mountain Range. When asked if he believed more students are going to their counselors for mental health help than for college and career help, counselor Will Marks replied, “There are. We like to help with all that stuff, like social emotional help, academics, and post secondary readiness, but it’s split more 50% mental health and 50% the other two.” Not only can this create an uneven balance for the students who need college and career help, but counselors aren’t always certified mental health professionals.
But MRHS is luckier than some other schools. Marks added, “We’re pretty fortunate that we have 7 counselors here, a school psychologist, a full time social worker, and a school based therapist available to all students.” He also commented that having these resources within the school can help kids not be concerned about the affordability or accessibility of help. “So there are resources out there, but it’s more about kids accessing or seeking out help. There are other resources like imatter.com or the virtual calming room on the MRHS website for students to access.”
However, many students don’t actually know about the resources being provided. In a survey sent out to high school students across the Adams 12 district (including Mountain Range, Northglenn, Legacy, Thornton, and Horizon) 90% of the students said that they don’t feel like they are being taught about the resources. Most only knew about Safe2Tell and the counselors in their schools. And many students said they don’t go to their counselors because they don’t feel comfortable.
An anonymous MRHS student replied to the survey question saying, “They [counseling and administrators] aren’t sharing the fact that they have any resources and it doesn’t help much if one, no one knows, and two, the kids don’t trust the school will even help. It doesn’t seem like the school cares about our mental health.” Several students at MRHS and the other surveyed schools said similar things, with many believing that their home high schools don’t really care about anything other than their test scores and the schools standing academically. But the problems don’t stop there.
Teens are also struggling with how they’re being taught how to cope with their mental health. Multiple students responded that they are not being taught new or different ways to cope, and that when they have tried to get help from their schools they have been turned automatically to their counselor which isn’t always the best way to get real help, especially if they are struggling with depression or even suicidal thoughts.
Mental health awareness has increased greatly in the past few years, but it is imperative that this growing issue amongst today’s youth is addressed more. Without help, teens an even younger generations may suffer the consequences of the failures of today’s adults.