Anxiety in high school students

Jordan Hawkins and Grace Wimberly

Being a teenager is a stressful time in anyone’s life. Dealing with anxiety on top of all the other things can completely overwhelm and derail the growing adolescent brain. For one high school junior in particular, school is especially difficult. The student has chosen to remain anonymous, but says,

“I think I get really stressed out because teachers don’t really communicate with each other and put so much on us at one time, expecting us to get it all done, while we balance our sports, and social life on top of it.”

Eight classes, 7 homework assignments, 2 projects, and 3 tests- just an average week as a typical high school student. But where’s the room for mental health?

In the United Kingdom, Oakgrove headteacher John Harkin told The Guardian, a well-known British newspaper, that an academic poll of 804 teachers revealed that 73% considered school (and life in general) far more stressful for students than in the previous decades, which Harkin says more than likely contributes to the climbing suicide rate.

However, what is being done to prevent the rise of anxiety and other mental health disorders?

Within Paschal, there are several resources for help with crisis and every day stresses. Although they are here, many have no idea that help even exists. Hope Squad, for example, is a group of high school students that help be “vessels” to kids in crisis, however trying to access them can be difficult. (check sidebar)


One senior Hope Squad representative says the reason the organization is helpful is because “they’re kids that can relate to you because adults can be intimidating.”

Paschal also has two intervention specialists who can be reached through email or by making an appointment; Ms. Paris  Blake ([email protected]) and Ms. Marcia Morgan ([email protected]).  

Mental health is a serious topic, and when it is neglected it can be a detrimental thing to teen brains. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA),a staggering reality for teens across the world.  In the chaos of heavy-workload and exhausted students, where is the time for talk about mental health?

Teens are reporting high levels of stress, according to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (2014). Eighty-three percent of teens surveyed cited school as a source of stress.

However, while stress is a serious issue that many students struggle with, it is important to understand the distinction between being stressed out and suffering from anxiety disorder, which is defined as a mental health disorder characterized by feelings of worry, anxiety, or fear that are strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities. According to, approximately 20 percent of teens experience depression before they reach adulthood, contributing to high anxiety. Between 10 to 15 percent suffer from symptoms at any one time. This shows that the everyday stress of high school is causing serious mental health issues in teens that dive past the surface of being “stressed out”.  

Dr. Kathleen Powderly, a pediatrician at Cook Children’s, says that  anxiety can stem from many different things. She says “The top sources are: school, extracurricular activities, grades, family conflict, relationship conflict (including friends, girlfriends, boyfriends), bullying, and problems created by  social media usage.”

When asked how she assesses a patient with mental health issues, she responded by saying “The first thing I try to do is to assess the causes of their anxiety. We talk through the reason for the anxiety and identify different ways of dealing with the source of stress.”

Powderly said, “ Sometimes a referral to a therapist is necessary. People who are dealing with anxiety often are not getting enough sleep or not sleeping well. I always recommend increasing the amount of sleep you’re  getting, turning off all electronics 30 minutes prior to going to bed and leaving your phone outside your room.”

Lastly, she would like to remind everyone that they are not alone.

“ Talk to a teacher, coach, counselor, school nurse, parent and absolutely go see your doctor,” Powderly said. “ There are so many people who want to help them and will not judge them. While it may not seem like it, high school is a small blip in your whole lifetime and things can be better- just hang in there and ask for help.”

Although help is available, students have turned to different substances to try and cope with their anxiety by using alcohol and marijuana as a stress-reliever.

Coping with anxiety and stress in general, has become a problem within itself. Alcohol and marijuana were described as the most common thing turned to, for students looking for relaxation, and relief from anxiety.

“Substance use for stress relief was a predominant theme in interviews with students, over two-thirds of whom described substance use as both endemic to their social experience and as a method for managing stress,” says Dr. Charles Cleland, a study investigator with a PhD from New York University.


Alcohol and marijuana are seen as the primary substances students used to “escape.” According to, alcohol is commonly used to cope with anxiety. One anonymous senior said, “Marijuana probably was a big anti-stress thing for me last year. Just being relaxed for like an hour or two helped.” Although it may not be the best method, later leading to bigger problems, using substances seems to be a common way for teenagers to get away from their pain and stress that they are faced with on a daily basis.

All of these things can worsen the effects of anxiety on your brain and body. Always remember that help is always within reach and you’re never too far gone. Listed below are local and national resources for crisis help.


National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255

24 Hour Crisis Hotline 817-927-2737

24/7 North Texas Crisis Line (214) 828-1000

Emotional Listening Support 1-800-932-4616 (toll free)

National Alliance on Mental Illnesses Helpline 1-800-950-NAMI

Abuse Hotline 1-800-656-HOPE займ на карту оформить первый займ без процентовонлайн займ под 0mig one займ