High school students serve as some of the most vulnerable individuals in our society to fall into harmful behaviors and to make poor choices. An epidemic seen across the United States that is not spoken of enough is the mental health of teenagers. Nearly 20% of children ages 13 to 18 have a mental illness according to the National Alliance for Mental Health.
Infographic derived from STATISTA
Statistics show that on average 30% of students felt sad or hopeless, signaling depression, in 2017. To add, 70% of students who have mental health disorders do not receive the proper treatment (neaToday).
While mental health is an under-funded and a poorly noticed problem in America, teenagers often release emotions and feelings online. There was been a wave of jokes and memes regarding depression, anxiety, and more that are posted hundreds of times daily on Instagram and primarily Twitter.
With more and more teenagers having overbearing feelings of depression and anxiety, many of them have begun to use humor through their social media posts about these feelings as a coping mechanism. Many people will create posts called “depression memes” to express the experiences of their mental health issues. These often get thousands and thousands of “likes” and “retweets”.
A brewing topic after last year’s eruption of mass school shootings was how are schools going to respond to this growing threat. Many states and schools have in return implemented “Active Intruder Drills” to best prepare students in case of an armed attack.
A new brand of drill is popular among schools, named ALICE. This strategy causes a student to be an active component in their own and the class’s decision making. Depending on the location of the intruder, students can flee the building or barricade their classroom doors and prepare to defend themselves.
However, a worry arising is whether or not teenagers’ will be able to maintain their mental stability with the enforcement of these drills. While the preparedness for an attack of an intruder may be reducing the amount of anxiety among the students, the drills themselves may be increasing it immensely. This may lead one to wonder if certain students are able to endure such intense preparation or not.
With the knowledge of need of these drills and the fact that teenagers are vulnerable to their mental health, there needs to be a line drawn between preparation for tragedy and mental destruction. The amount of drills, the intensity of the drills, and how realistically they should be taken needs to be established by the schools using these training drills, or the companies, such as ALICE, who made these drills in the first place.
During these drills practiced in Divine Child High School, you can sense the panic through the faces of the students and teachers and all of the silent, swift movements. After the initial amount of fear and anxiety that comes from hearing the announcement over the speakers, the tension throughout the school gradually decreases until the drill is over. When the drill is over, there is a sigh of relief and calmness that comes with being more prepared for the worst.