Mentally Stable, Healthy, and Possibly Diagnosable


Maverick Mendoza

IS THE LIGHT ON IN THE ATTIC? The most common issues students face in this time of their lives revolve around relationships, academic pressure, and conflict. Do enough kids know how to recognize if someone had a problem?

The associated words that come with the label of the infamous ‘teenage years’ are always of negative connotation: think descriptions like angsty, broody, stressed, and snappy. The topic of mental health permeates the daily life of these anxious and success driven beings like a fly to honey, but more often than not it, is swatted away over the longer process of cleaning up. The issue of mental health elicits a wide variety of viewpoints and biases, from straight up denial or ignorance of a problem, to oversharing on social media. However, the serious nature of this topic cannot be sidelined, especially in the stress- and anxiety-filled atmosphere of high school. According to the National Mental Health of America, Washington ranks No. 43 nationally in youth mental health, with a culmination of both lack of access to proper care and prevalence of mental health issues. However, improvement of these problems looms, especially over the angsty and anxious teens of the future. Given that these changes are already beginning to be set into motion, the hope that not only those up and coming, but also the teens of today will also be able to recognize a problem revolving around the mental health of themselves and others as well. .

Another caveat is the general lack of knowledge around many of the resources offered to students at Issaquah High School, as many students remain unaware of what they can access in the name of mental health. There exists not only just your counselors, but a variety of resources from anonymous texting lines to a certified mental health specialist that exists in the school and keeps hours here in our high school. There is a disconnect between many of the students and the information that the administration offers in general. Many students are not aware of the pure variety of the resources offered, or even the steps that they can take if they feel they are having a problem. The mental health counselor, Sara Torelli, said  “I had thought so because I feel like Ms. McBride had built up the program, like really tried to advertise it, and I do know because the counsellors tell me at the beginning of the year that they make an announcement when they orient students and when they are meeting with students who seem to be stressed or having emotional difficulties they will always mention me to them, or parents who reach out.” One such way to reach out is both one’s personal counselors email, or Torelli’s email, at [email protected] . Torelli also helped begin a start up three years ago  through Evergreen Hospital in an effort to get more social workers and counselors into the overpopulated halls of high school across the state. However, Issaquah School District is not ignoring this issue. They offer access to various mental health services, via the counselor, and even texting and online options, such as Crisis Connections and Teen Link, which are both anonymous lines, accessible by texting  “HOME” to 741741 at any time of day or night, for any reason. These resources are something that all students should be aware of, not just something that they learn in health class. The Policy and Advocacy Center reported that one in five children and adolescents will face a significant mental health condition during their school years. These can act as huge barriers in both social and academic environments, and can inhibit success and any kind of benefit from the two.

According to junior Emily Claeys, “The stigma with mental health and stuff has improved a lot.  I feel like its a lot more common. In general it’s better because its actually being taught and recognized in school.” The steps the school has taken are obviously providing benefits, as students such as Claeys are aware of both the lack of discussion around mental health, but also the general improvements on those very same discussions. Sophomore Erin Gerhig feels similarly, “I am actually really happy that mental health and stuff is getting more attention, it gives me some more hope for the next generation of kids growing up and entering the adult world as healthy people.” It’s especially important now that the student body is growing and beginning to enter the “real world” that there is knowledge available for those who may struggle with issues regarding mental health.  Issaquah is definitely moving in the right direction, but is it enough?