How our school is handling mental health due to stress

Mental health is something a lot of teens struggle with especially during this time with online school, but one leading question some may ask is ‘Does stress affect mental health?’

Well, the short answer is yes, stress does affect your mental health as well as physical health and many other aspects of your life. 

“Yes, I mean stress affects a lot. Even beyond mental health and the way we feel and experience,”  Amy Boven, Middle school counselor said. “It can impact our memory, affect how we logic and reason through things, digestive system, immune system, sleep, the amount of patience we have for others, our ability to self-control and response mechanisms.”

Every single person experiences stress in everyday life but some people experience prolonged and constant stress, commonly known as chronic stress. Chronic stress can negatively affect your health and can be caused by multiple different situations.

While doing research, the National Institute of Mental Health explained what chronic stress can do to your body and to your mental health. 

With chronic stress, those same life-saving reactions in the body can disturb the immune, digestive, cardiovascular, sleep, and reproductive systems,” said. “Some people may experience mainly digestive symptoms, while others may have headaches, sleeplessness, sadness, anger, or irritability.”

 While stress does affect your physical health it also can negatively impact your mental health.

“Over time, continued strain on your body from stress may contribute to serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other illnesses, including mental disorders such as depression or anxiety,” stated.

When answering the question, does stress affect mental health? It is a very obvious yes but, what causes stress in everyday life, what makes us experience this annoying feeling? 

“Common things that cause teens to have stress is school, relationships, extracurriculars, life challenges, work, lack of time – having too much to do, feeling unprepared or overwhelmed, and lack of sleep,” stated.

“I often find myself stressing over school because my parents push me to do my best, sometimes I overwork myself,” Junior Haley King said. 

School is obviously the main stressor for students whether or not you are in middle school or in high school, even elementary school. Students can feel stressed because of all the due dates and homework, even our own students from Imagine Prep Surprise have felt stress, especially this past year.

“I am not really as stressed as other students that attend Imagine Prep, but now that I am going back to in-person school, it has been a struggle to keep up with my grades,” Seventh Grader Layna Shaffer said. “I feel like if the school did in-person office hours, so it can be one on one, I would be more at ease with my grades and the understanding of the unit that we are learning about.”

Shaffer acknowledged that the switch from online to in-person caused her to feel a lot of stress while King said that online school is causing her a lot of stress. 

“I found myself very stressed during online school. I didn’t get much time with my friends or teachers,” King said. “In-person school is definitely beneficial for me because I can have face to face interactions with my teachers and others.” 

To stop yourself from getting super overwhelmed with all of the stress talking to friends is a great way to help.

“I usually go to my best friend (Misabella) while stressed or agitated about something that is school or home related,” Shaffer said. “In the future, I plan on attending more of Mrs. Boven’s counseling sessions to help relieve some of that stress.” 

When students feel stressed they like to get help from friends and family, but some students also like to use sports and other activities to help relieve their stress.

“When I am stressed, I take out all my emotion by going to cheer practice, driving, and even on myself,” King stated. 

Just like other students King also shared that she likes talking to her sister and also likes to go to Ms. Pelletier to crack up jokes and grab some advice.  

During this time of uncertainty, of doing online school and the drastic change to in-person school, the question we now ask is ‘how is our school, Imagine Prep Surprise, handling student’s mental health and managing stress? Is our school helping students enough? 

“I feel like the school is trying to help relieve the stress of students, but it doesn’t help me,” Shaffer stated. “When I am stressed I usually just stop what I am doing and watch my favorite shows or play with my pets, they help calm me down. For other students I think that they should speak to a counselor such as Mrs. Boven or a teacher they trust,” Shaffer suggested. 

“I think by implementing a place where students are able to take a minute to decompress would be very beneficial for relieving stress. The school can take that into consideration because students can learn new skills, and recognize their emotions,” King said. “I think working on my time management skills would help me relieve stress the most because it’s something I’ve always struggled with.”

With most of the year being online that also means counseling would be online, which is different than what our counselors are used to. 

“It’s different, I think that I was able to support them as much as I could. One of the biggest challenges sometimes, I would meet with people without their cameras on because of internet reasons so you don’t get the chance to read body language or facial expressions,” Boven said. 

Along with our school having online counseling, Boven also explained that not all Imagine campuses have counseling staff.

“Imagine Schools as a whole recognized not every campus has a counselor on staff so the counselors here were assigned secondary or third schools to do virtual support during this closure,” Boven stated. “I was working with students from Rosefield as well which was different because all of my educational career I was working with middle school and high school.” 

Not only do students have to try and adjust to this new counseling environment but so does the counselor. But even though this situation is tough, our school is still trying to do everything they can to be there for students. 

If you are ever feeling stressed out and you need help, always feel free to contact Boven or any teacher or staff you trust at the school, practice self-care, and if your stress is taking a huge toll on your mental health, always feel free to contact the crisis hotline. Your mental health matters.

“Some good ways to reduce and manage stress include eating well, exercising regularly, trying to reduce negativity, prioritizing leisure time, limiting alcohol and caffeine, avoiding cigarettes and other drugs, and adopting proper sleep hygiene,” said.

Overall, yes stress does affect your mental health, and students and our counselors can recognize that and are trying to do everything they can to still be a support to students even though it’s online and everything is completely different.