High School Mental Health

High schoolers use a number of coping mechanisms when dealing with anxiety and depression.


Delilah Gemello

Although unconventional, one student draws tick marks as a method of calming herself.

Delilah Gemello, Staff Writer

Delilah Gemello

Anxiety rates among middle and high school students have increased by two percent since 2012. As of 2011, one in 20 teens in the United States suffers from mental health issues. There are many high school students that go through their day to day lives with anxiety and depression that goes unnoticed. A Palo Alto High School (PALY) freshman, who prefers to remain unnamed and, starting at young age, has struggled with her mental health, shares her story.

“The main cause of my anxiety and depression ended up being issues with my family starting in sixth grade,” the anonymous freshman stated.

There are many reasons for why teens are depressed and anxious, including academic pressure, sports pressure, social media and standards. Just like the variety of reasons behind why teens are anxious or depressed, they also have their own ways of coping with their mental health.

“A lot of the time, going to sports practice really helps,” the anonymous student stated, “but when I am at school, I would draw tick marks or I would just say ‘yes’ over and over again in my head.”

This student does this because, when in social situations, it calms her down when she is feeling stressed or anxious about something. Although some people’s coping strategies may seem unusual, the effectiveness of the strategy depends on the person. Middle and high school is a time in kids’ lives where they are starting to forge longer-lasting relationships, and having a mental illness can have an effect on this aspect of a teen’s life.

“My social life was put on hold, and the friends that I did have were confused about why I would be so distant,” the student explained. “I had all of this built-up pressure, and I would lash out on my friends.”

One key coping strategy for teens with anxiety and depression is to have even just one person in their life that can be there for them.

“The biggest people that helped me through this, besides my therapist, who I saw once a week, was my mom, and, not necessarily directly but indirectly, my friends,” the student shared. “It was like they wouldn’t know about it, but just by being with them I would feel better.”

Moon Singer is a parent of a Woodside High School student who deals with anxiety can think of many reasons as to why kids are anxious.

I had all of this built-up pressure and I would lash out on my friends.”

— Anonymous PALY Freshman

“There is so much pressure coming from college acceptances, parents, and the general pressure of life and the competitive nature of academics,” Singer said. “All of these contribute to anxiety today.”

Understanding these causes can help to better identify ways to cope with their effects. The most important thing for teens to keep in mind is that nobody is ever alone when dealing with anxiety and depression.

“Something that really helped me was allowing myself to open up to my therapist,” the anonymous student commented, added that other students in similar situations should “allow themselves to open up and not make themselves go through it alone, and, you know, reach out, whether it is a parent, therapist, teacher, or coach.”

Many teens are dealing with anxiety and depression, and no one is alone. Emma Montalbano, a Woodside High School freshman and a friend of a teen struggling with anxiety, has experience.

“Things will get better, and there’s always going to be people who are there for you,” Montalbano stated.