Anxiety on the rise among High School students

Anxiety is on the rise, especially in youth. People aged 15-24 are more likely to experience mental illness. 70% of mental health problems have their onset during childhood or adolescence. 34% of Ontario high-school students indicate a moderate-to-serious level of psychological distress (symptoms of anxiety and depression). 14% indicate a serious level of psychological distress.

Having anxiety at varying levels of intensity often comes with some negative impacts. Some of the many things anxiety can cause to happen include things like: losing a job because one missed too many shifts, getting low grades on school projects and tests from never starting or studying and even lost personal connections from avoiding social interaction. Sarah M, a student at WCI says “I miss a lot of school because of anxiety, I feel scared and wanted to be at home, I don’t want to leave my house”. When combined the negative impacts of anxiety on someone’s life can be overwhelming and end up causing even more anxious feelings on top of what had someone feeling that way in the first place. In the most severe cases, people may be completely unable to function in everyday life due to frequent anxiety and panic attacks.

 

A photo of a grade 12 student’s planner

Fortunately, people experiencing this don’t have to struggle on their own, there are helpful steps you can take to reduce your anxiety and overcome it. One step you can take for yourself would be to get yourself into a better sleeping habit. Getting that 7-9 hours of sleep is very crucial for high school aged students in order for them to perform their academic requirements. Lack of sleep can limit your ability to learn and concentrate to solve problems. Another thing to pair with proper sleep is physical activity. Getting adequate physical activity every single day has been proven to reduce stress levels. Planning your days and having a routine to follow may also eliminate some anxiety caused from not knowing what to do with your time. All of these things can help to reduce anxious feelings. There are also other options if you are finding it too difficult to even begin these sorts of helpful activities, prescribed medication along with counselling may be the most beneficial place to start. Sarah M stated “I go to counselling and I’ve been very open about it, people are a lot more accepting than you would expect them to be” So if you are struggling with anxiety, don’t be afraid of counselling as they are only there to help you.

WCI has recently implemented an anxiety protocol that was put in place to work with students to cope and reduce anxiety. Ms. Milks said that, “This anxiety protocol is not ‘new’ we have been doing these things for a year now at WCI and some things that we have available to students are: Extra time, a quiet place to work and we help them manage their anxiety with techniques and some helpful apps”.

Students can reach out to the guidance staff, which includes a pretty big array of workers not only limited to guidance counsellors. They also include the REC staff, ms Gerrie, and even teachers. The REC room is also a good, quiet place to either do work or take a break and chill out, someone that you may not recognize as a place of support is the school nurse too, the bottom line is that there are many people within the school that are willing to help.