The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the stress that students experience tenfold. Because students already face rigorous and demanding academic standards, it is no wonder that this pandemic has caused students’ mental health to deteriorate.
Ridgewood High School has many resources to alleviate these struggles. There are pages on its website dedicated to students’ mental health that provide contact information, phone numbers for emergencies and papers discussing this topic. Counselors at the high school who specialize in teen mental health are also available for appointments during school.
But what more can RHS be doing? The problem with many of these resources is that they demand the students seek them out. Mental health issues aren’t always obvious and many people may not feel comfortable asking for help. Physical health checks are done every year by the school, but there are no mental health check ups. Mental health isn’t officially brought up in the curriculum until late into eleventh grade, and even then it is only briefly mentioned. The school needs to have a more thorough discussion of such problems and help all students get the resources they may need.
Even though many students may not have these issues, they will still benefit from learning more about them. Every single student at RHS deals with a large amount of stress, to the point where we have been told not to be surprised if we eventually burst into tears during the year.
The school should reach out more effectively to its students to make sure that they are okay. It is much easier to talk about problems when someone else brings it up rather than introducing the topic yourself. The school should be trying to start more conversations about mental health so that it becomes normalized and more people are willing to pursue help.
Graphic: Lauren Stuart