High school can be a breeding ground for individuality and socializing, but it can also contribute to mental health disorders, low self-esteem, and bullying. While high school students are holding on with one hand to their parents/guardians, they are simultaneously grasping for their independence. This tricky balancing act can cause a lot of self-doubt and stress. Trying to figure out where they fit in a while managing academics and sifting their way through peer pressure can bring a lot of doubt and insecurities leading to depression and anxiety among high school students.

“Am I good enough?”
“Am I smart enough?”
“Am I pretty enough?”
“Am I happy?”

Mental health screening in high schools

Mental health screening in high school is relatively new and even non-existent in some states. Cañon City school district in Colorado recently issued a 34-question BIMAS-2 survey to high school students that asked a range of questions about their thoughts and behaviors during the previous school week such as if they felt angry, maintained friendships, had trouble paying attention, or missed school and whether they had thoughts of hurting themselves. Although the statistics of this study were not published for the public, Cañon City schools reported that many students reported being unhappy, and some even reported having thoughts of self-harm.

“One of the biggest takeaways from the screening data was that many teens need more help coping with school and life. And not just kids who have obvious problems with grades, attendance, or behavior. The survey turned up plenty of high-achieving students with solid friendships and a raft of extracurricular activities who reported being unhappy”, according to the Colorado-based article entitled Its Okay to Not Be Okay.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services revealed that in 2017, 31% of U.S. high school students reported feeling sad or hopeless to the extent that they stopped participating in their usual activities and 17% reported that they seriously thought about committing suicide and 7% admitted to attempting suicide during the school year. In 2016 13% of high school students admitted to having at least one major depressive episode.

Short term intensive summer therapy program

Surveying high school students about mental health, educating teachers about suicide and providing in-school access to mental health counseling is a huge step in the right direction towards acknowledging that high school students are in fact, struggling with their mental health but what happens when school is out for the summer? These students may not have access to school therapists, may not feel as though they are protected in their safety net and may think that not having a school routine is triggering for their depression or anxiety. Summertime can be a triggering time for students to feel alone and depressed, which may trigger them to have suicidal or self-harm ideations. As a result, intensive outpatient summer programs can be an excellent way for your child to focus on his/her mental health. An intensive short-term summer treatment program can help your child with coping skills, interpersonal relationships, and self-esteem to be ready for the next school year. Additionally, these programs can provide structure and discipline, which is commonly neglected in the summertime, and as a result, many teens with ADHD struggle with this lack of structure.