The Student News Site of North Allegheny Intermediate High School

NA Eye

The Student News Site of North Allegheny Intermediate High School

NA Eye

The Student News Site of North Allegheny Intermediate High School

NA Eye

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Couselors’ New Approach to Addressing Mental Health

International Committee of the Red Cross
The battle between the stigma that surrounds mental health and struggling without support continues to be an issue among high school students.

A growth in mental health concerns among teens has created an ever-growing epidemic. Without schools addressing the severity of mental health disorders, the stigma surrounding them will continue to stop teens from seeking the help they need.

Based on data from the 10 years leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic, feelings of depression, hopelessness, and suicidal thoughts increased by 40% among young people.

The vast majority of mental health illnesses among teens go undiagnosed, causing young people to not receive the care they need to avoid potentially long-term consequences. According to Youth Today, 1 in 4 high school students show symptoms of depression, making the removal of its stigma in schools vital.

High schools nationwide try to break the stigma by discussing and continually normalizing mental health as a whole. Mrs. Madison Lewis, a school counselor at North Allegheny Intermediate High School, believes that “there’s definitely a stigma,” and considers that “being in a smaller environment like a school probably doesn’t help that either.”

Maintaining a collaborative relationship with the staff within a school is crucial to creating a safe space for students. At NAI, Mrs. Lewis emphasizes that “we do a really good job of working as a team to discuss any concerns we might have about students.” She stresses, “We are a team. We want what’s best for you, really emphasizing the word ‘we’.”

Having students feel comfortable confiding in the adults around them improves their ability to receive the support they need. NAI is “really lucky” to have access to an abundance of mental health resources, along with connections to services outside of the school for further assistance to students seeking help.

First, having the staff be mindful of what a mental health concern looks like is important.

— Maddie Lewis, School Counselor

To create a student-teacher relationship that’s stable, a school’s staff needs to understand how to handle and spot mental health concerns among teens in today’s world. Mrs. Lewis explains, “First, having the staff be mindful of what a mental health concern looks like is important.” Without a solidified understanding of their struggles, teens won’t feel inclined to share their concerns within a school setting. As most of a teen’s week is spent in a school setting, the need for reliable support and guidance is crucial.

With high school students going through the challenges of growing up in a world that expects the most from their generation, they feel alone in their struggles behind closed doors. Within NAI, creating a safe space to talk about the anxieties of life, academics, and being a teen is maintained each year in student support groups. Mrs Lewis hopes that these additional support systems will “hopefully decrease some of those symptoms and mental health concerns as students move through their years here at NAI.”

In an effort to change the future generation’s approach toward mental health, Mrs. Lewis highlights how “It’s our goal to eliminate [stigma] as best as we can.” Even though the need for mental health support has increased in recent years, schools like NAI are working to break the stigma that surrounds it by creating a safe environment for students and staff to incorporate and normalize its presence in our lives.

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About the Contributor
Alicia Gasana
Alicia Gasana, Staff Writer
Alicia is a sophomore at NAI and it’s her first year on writing for the school newspaper. She loves to create stories, read, and travel.

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