Maintaining Stable Mental Health in School


Studying for tests can keep students up until 2am, sports can cause athletes to arrive home late, and clubs can add on to the list of endless obligations high school students endure every day.

Inability to meet the standards for recommended amounts of sleep is one of the many stresses students encounter during high school. According to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, teenagers get an average of seven to seven and a quarter hours of sleep a night. During these years, from ages 13 to 18, nine to nine and a quarter hours of sleep are needed. One of the main reasons teenagers have a lack of sleep are school obligations.

“Honestly, I stay up too late. I’d rather have sleep, but part of me freaks out internally because there are pressures to do good in school. Even you yourself, you pressure yourself, because you want to do good in school,” says Morgan Clark, a sophomore at Arrowhead.

The pressure to be perfect is a tough weight to bear. Magazines are covered with images of ordinary people airbrushed and photoshopped until they fit the rest of the world’s standards. Behind school walls, similar ideals are expected. Students are constantly striving to learn new sports plays, achieve goals in clubs, or get the perfect grade point average.   

“I think it [students putting pressure on themselves] comes from some misconceptions about college and what it takes to be successful. I hear a lot of misconceptions that students think they have to take eight classes a semester, or that they have to take AP classes in order to get into a good college, which really isn’t true at all. We talk to colleges all the time and what they tell us is that they want students who are passionate about what they are doing, who have figured out how to have that self-care piece, and who are really able to manage their time because some people get so burnt out that by the time they get to college, they’ve lost that love for learning,” says Brianne Mehlos, an Arrowhead school counselor.

“Stress levels are pretty high throughout the year, but once you get to exams, specifically winter exams, then it peaks,” says Clark.

Exams take place twice during the year–once in the winter and once during the spring. Hours upon hours are spent reading over notes and trying to memorize that one tricky math equation.

Breaking down study time is an efficient way to prepare for exams. Students should study in intervals rather than in one large chunk of time and keep up on notes throughout the year. If a student is confused about a class, they should not be afraid to ask a teacher, as they are there to help, Mehlos says.

According to Oklahoma State University Health Services, developing a strong group of friends can help ease stress. Coping skills for each student is different. Clark plays piano and expresses her love for music when stress levels are high.

“There’s positive coping strategies and negative coping strategies, because that anxiety is kind of pent up energy and it needs to come out in some way. So positive coping strategies would be things like talking to someone who is supportive, [or talking to] a counselor or a friend or a parent who you feel comfortable confiding in, drawing, journaling, writing, listening to music. Something that is a positive way to channel that energy, versus the negative coping skills,” says Mehlos.