May is Mental Health Awareness Month


Hadley Rosengrant, Writer

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and with finals approaching and AP testing coming to a close, it’s important that we all check in with ourselves and our friends to make sure that the levels of stress and anxiety we’re feeling are normal and healthy.

Mental disorders aren’t all that uncommon in teenagers, 33.6% of all adolescents have some sort of anxiety disorder. Depression and bipolar affects 14% of all teenagers, with the probability that teens will have it steadily increasing with age. Anxiety disorder is increasingly common in teenagers, mostly due to stress about social issues and grades.

Child states that increasing levels of anxiety are correlated with current political, social, and environmental causes, as the amount of teens who have had a depressive episode has increased by 34% since 2005. But the good news is that awareness about mental illness has increased significantly, and the number of teenagers able to see a therapist has doubled since 1980.

Seeking help when you feel like you’re struggling more than normal is completely normal and okay. Asking for help or talking to someone about what you’re going through doesn’t make you weak or even a burden, if anything, it means that you’re strong enough to want to keep going and to make changes in your life.

At Bob Jones, we have a few different resources for when students are feeling stressed and overwhelmed. The counseling center isn’t just for schedule changes or transcript requests, Assistant Principal Courtney Horton explained that “Anyone in the counseling center is available to chat, or find someone to chat with you when needed. [It’s] a safe place for those who are needing to talk, study, or just need a break.”

Tyler Alexander comes to Bob Jones 5 days a week from The Enrichment Center (an organization that provides areas of the community with counselors and life coaches). He is a registered counselor and is available for students with a referral. Students can come to talk to him themselves or can be referred by a teacher, counselor, or parent. Alexander explained, “If a student is struggling, they are more than welcome to stop by my office in the counseling center and schedule an appointment or stop in to talk. Students might come to me if they are having a crisis, such as a sudden tragic event, suicidal or harmful thoughts, or if they want to talk to someone about their emotional and mental health. Students can refer themselves if they need to seek counseling or need help during a crisis. If students want to reach me or schedule an appointment they can simply come up to the counseling center and stop by my office if my door is open. If I am out of the office students are more than welcome to leave a note on my door with their name so I can contact them. Once they get an appointment, I’d be willing to give out my contact information. If the students would prefer to go through administration or teacher, the faculty and staff member can fill out a referral form for the student and send it my way.

It’s important that we remember to be kind to each other, and have compassion for everyone that we encounter. It’s impossible to know what another student is going through on any given day, and we have to respect that. Alexander explained, “Success and growth are different for everyone, from simply opening up to disclosing personal information, to being self-reflective and getting to the core issue of a problem. In regards to depression, it’s important to learn to replace negative thoughts with positive ones, and with anxiety, it’s important to learn to stay grounded in the present moment.