How High School Affects the Mental Health of Its Students

Lauren Powell, Writer

High school is stressful and most of us can agree. Not only is day-to-day life stressful for adolescence, but school has us seeing more and more pressure stacking up. There’s the pressure to fit in, the pressure to do well in class, and as time approaches, the pressure to know what you want to do with your life and how you want to get there. According to the CDC, between 2009 and 2019, the number of students reporting negative feelings has risen by a whopping 40%, with 1 in 3 students experiencing this.  Nowadays, students are more depressed, and it isn’t hard to see why.

The pressure to fit in might be the toughest and most common problem high schoolers face. With such a diverse pool of students coming in and out of schools, there should be no one right way to do things. Many of us struggle to find close friends with whom we share interests and there’s a sort of pressure to conform to the school society’s idea of normal. Acceptance sometimes pressures young students to do or attempt things they would otherwise never do on their own, like drugs or sex. Some groups may even have more issues with discrimination, like the LGBT community, who are commonly judged on things that society deems as “not normal,” and they’re just being true to themselves. To see this, we can look to the LGBT students. The CDC states that feelings of hopelessness and sadness were “found to be more common among lesbian, gay, or bisexual students, even female students.”

Schools tend to base students’ intellect on their grades. There is such a pressure to perform, that I personally have had many issues in the past keeping up with piling grades and classwork. Not everybody is good at tests or keeping up with missing work and I’m sure that’s a lot of us. According to, research shows that with lower grade point averages, depression and anxiety were more common. This directly correlates with high school and college dropouts. To make things worse, poor mental health can lead to even more issues within the school. In a study also by, 30% of students reported stress, 22% reported anxiety, 20% reported sleep deprivation, and 14% reported depression. It’s a vicious cycle that schools don’t tend to address or work on.

For a lot of people, the future is terrifying. So much is placed upon what school we go to and what job we get. So much so that it could determine one’s future, and that’s a huge decision to make in high school, where we’re barely adults. Our standardized tests act as a ticket to our future, or so we’re told. With all the stresses of high school, the ever-looming thought of college and our future is no help. 

School should be a fun time for students, and while I’m sure it is for a lot of us, it can also be the worst part of a student’s day. All the mounting pressure and anxiety is affecting more and more students as time goes on and schools should become more serious about supporting their students. In the wise words of Kat, one of my friends, “I think I would rather give all my organs away than be forced to go to school every day.” Schools should teach more diversity, especially when kids are young. This could eliminate older kids seeing others as abnormal and being discriminatory because of that. While I know stressing our future is important as it draws near, schools should also let students know that choosing to start higher education or a job later in life is just as good as starting right out of high school. Lastly, students should teach at a young age that grades do not define you or how smart you are. From personal experience, I was taught that grades were very important, and to be successful, your grades needed to be high.

As we stand now, there needs to be a new system in place to keep from all of this pressure stacking up on students.