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Edinboro University & Northwestern Pennsylvania High School Journalism Competition: Third Place (Website)

Students share mental health concerns


It is apparent amongst students and staff of Prep and Villa of the declining mental state of the school community.

In an anonymous survey sent out to the student body, 55 percent of those that responded reported school as their main stressor. The majority of students on both campuses at Prep and Villa have been feeling anxious and on edge nearly every day.

A large majority of students feel a certain pressure when it comes to their academics. Many students noted a desire to make their family members, teachers, and administrators proud when it comes to their academic achievements.

“I think many students try to tackle so much on their own and may not recognize how helpful it can be to talk with someone”, said Miss. Jean Peterson, a guidance counselor at Villa.

One student in specific noted that while their common stressor is the workload associated with school, this is typical as a teenager to be feeling. “As I’ve gotten more used to school, it’s been less and less stressful,” the student reported.

This is not just an internal feeling of students, but a visible issue that teachers and administrators are beginning to notice.

“Students view their campus life as a do-or-die situation,” according to a staff member of Villa.

They put so much pressure on themselves that they feel incapable of perusing their education. Villa lost students to cyber school as a result of this inability to cope.

For students with conflicts within the family, this time spent inside as winter approaches may induce feelings of discomfort and aggravation.

“The pressure you face in a broken home as one of the older siblings is a lot to put on a young teen,” added an anonymous student.

The guidance department is aware of the stresses students are facing and has compiled some simple tips to manage stress as a high school student:

  1. Get enough sleep
  2. Eat a healthy diet
  3. Build time management skills
  4. Stay organized
  5. Focus on what you can control and let go of what you are incapable of controlling
  6. Seek help from a safe adult
  7. Communicate with teachers about concerns regarding coursework
  8. Turn off social media at least one hour before sleeping
  9. Ask for professional help
  10. Use coping skills

Three recommended methods of coping by the Guidance Department include deep breathing, the 3-3-3 rule, and prayer. They advise to inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, and exhale for 8 seconds. Repeat this process until satisfied. The 3-3-3 rule uses senses to center yourself in the moment. Identify three things you can see, three things you can hear, and three things you can touch.

After returning to in-person instruction, the adjustments on both campuses have taken a toll on the mental health of students. On Dec. 6-7, SAP counselors will be stopping by classrooms to discuss issues related to mental health and coping with stress and anxiety in the classroom. By continuing to do the best they can, Prep and Villa students are demonstrating their faith, strength, and academic rigor.

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