Students respond to CDC mental health report

By: Ashtyn Praeter and Sam Vine 

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control shows that nearly 60% of high school-age females feel persistently sad or hopeless – a 21% increase from 2011. Almost everyone has dealt with these issues or at least knows someone who has. The statistics, however, are only one side of this story. 

EagleView News interviewed a variety of high school students at Bellbrook High School of varying ages and backgrounds to see what their thoughts on this topic are.

Q: Studies show that nearly 60% of females feel persistently sad or hopeless, and this is a 21% increase from 2011. What are your thoughts on this?

Kayla –My thoughts on that are that it is definitely true, especially with the rise of social media and I think high school and puberty reflect on that.

Riley –Speaking from my own personal experience, I definitely could agree with that. I constantly feel stressed out and there’s a constant pressure to perform in everything that I do.

Lexi – “That’s pretty crazy. I think that’s a really big number. That’s honestly pretty sad that it’s in women. I think that social media has a big impact on those numbers.”

Jacob – I figure it’s largely to do with COVID and isolation that people felt away from each other through the lockdown, but it is hopefully something that will improve throughout the years.

Sydney – “I think there are a lot of different factors that play into that. Like, especially with COVID and the social isolation that came with that, that probably also increased those feelings.”

Kayden – “I believe that is mostly due to rises in things like sexism. Making a rise to depression and mental degrading toward these women.”

Ethan –That is definitely something that should be addressed and we need to find ways to help those people.”

Emma – “That is a pretty big increase.”

Have you seen an increase in bullying online versus in school? What are more contributing factors?

Kayden – I think there is definitely a rise in online bullying because people can sit behind a mask and just do whatever they want without getting direct consequences because they are anonymizing themselves and sitting there making fun of these people and causing a lot of mental degrading factors for other people. In school, there’s still been bullying and stuff like that. Even in the high school sometimes you still see people getting bullied and no one’s standing up for them or they are joining in pointing and laughing. [Bullying is] a huge thing and it is causing problems because people don’t know what to do with themselves once they get bullied. So once they get bullied to a certain extent, like just making fun of everything you have, you can’t do anything about it, you are just absorbing it. You just have to sit and take it.”

Sydney – I do think it’s easier to confront people online because you’re hiding behind a screen versus, like, I don’t really see people confront people in person anymore, it’s all online and on snapchat or whatever.

Riley – “I have seen a lot more online bullying and I think there is an increase in that because it 

is easier to get away with it and it’s a lot easier to say mean things to someone through a phone than face to face.

Kayla – I definitely have because I think it is easier to be online because you are not speaking 

face to face with anybody and it is just more prevalent. I think that it is way easier to be online and some spaces create a community to where bullying is almost encouraged.”

Ethan – I definitely have seen an increase in online bullying and in person people have decreased in frequency because everyone has been shifting toward online communication, and it only has been spiking. With social media, I think that is why there is more of an increase in bullying because people look at others and their self esteem goes down and they want to look a certain way. So I think that has something to do with online bullying.

Lexi – I think COVID had a big part to do with it, like people being home by themselves and not having someone to reach out and talk to and being cut off from people. I think that definitely has to effect it. Definitely schools, people you’re around all day, social media, COVID, a whole bunch of factors.

Emma – “I have definitely seen a lot of online bullying. I think that people believe they can say whatever they want when they aren’t face to face with somebody and people will definitely not say the things they mean if they aren’t face to face.

Jacob – I agree it is a lot less physical bullying and a lot more of over texting and social media. I think it’s social media definitely, since it’s been on the rise, so has mental health issues.

How, if at all, has COVID-19 contributed to these feelings of sadness and hopelessness?

Riley –I think it definitely has because during COVID everyone kind of like was in their own space and could enjoy their own time and I think coming out of it everyone had a hard time getting used to going back and seeing people every day and it just kinda hurt everyone in a different way.

Emma – Not being able to see your friends and meet new people and learn new things as much causes people to not grow as a person.

Kayla – People have definitely stayed inside more. I know I did, and some of it was forced by rules and regulation, some of it was me just wanting to be safe. COVID-19 definitely affected me and my family and I know that we are not alone.”

Have you experienced these feelings of hopelessness or seen a peer experience it?

Kayden – My personal experience is I had a really harsh form called major depression where it just came in a super big wave, lasting for a month-ish. I had to go to counseling and multiple different types of therapy and stuff like that. The way I ended up feeling a lot better about myself was through those counseling sessions, being able to get out my feelings. I needed to get out and talk about what I was going through. Then coming to the realization for myself that what’s happening to me wasn’t benefiting me or doing anything for myself. I ended up finding comfort in residing in the sadness because once you get there for a certain point you kind of just sit and you are like I don’t know where else to go. Once you are able to talk about it and get out to somebody, get out your feelings, get some feedback you come to a realization doing that doesn’t do anything. You find comfort in it but after a while you’ll realize even the comfort being uncomfortable can help you get out of those things. 

About noticing it in other people – you can definitely see once you go through certain signs of depression and other mental health issues, you can just look around and see people everywhere who are just experiencing those things and don’t talk about it or they try to mask it and even when they are in conversations they won’t show many signs of anything. But once you experience it, you can see it. You just notice certain signs and it’s just being able to see like very little things. It just sucks seeing that after going through it and knowing people need that help and are not able to get it. I don’t know what to do for them.”

Sydney – I think it all depends on what your circumstances are – like how your life is going. Like if you are involved in activities, because I feel like with extra curriculars and stuff you get more of a feeling of social bonding and I think that that helps decrease that and I think the social isolation brought on by COVID definitely increased that.”

Lexi – Me personally, not really. I think if I ever start feeling that way, I take it to God and pray for it and I reach out to someone. I’m really close to my mom and if I every have problems I discuss it with her. I have friends I trust, too, teachers I can go to. So, I’m definitely very blessed in that realm. I don’t think I have a specific story, but as a reliable friend, people have come to me and talked to me about it. I think it is really good to have someone you can talk to and rely on when you need it.”

Emma – Yeah, I’ve had a lot of friends, and even myself sometimes that have felt a lot of negative effects from stuff like that.”

Riley – I have, and since COVID, I could definitely tell that my anxiety has increased. I think school has come a lot harder because we were used to it being online rather than in person and I think that year of messed up schooling has completely screwed everyone over.”

Kayla – I definitely have. I haven’t in a long time but I’ve seen a lot of people this year especially some seniors go through some rough patches because they know that this could be their only home and they have known Bellbrook their entire life that they’re leaving soon.”

Ethan – I haven’t really experienced this, but I have seen others go through the struggle.”

Jacob – “I haven’t been picked on a whole lot especially through high school. Most of it was when I was younger. That was physical bullying. I think at least my situation has improved, but obviously that’s not the case for everybody.”

What do you think are some causes of these feelings of hopelessness or stress? In what ways did you cope or deal with these feelings?

Riley – I have definitely started going to the gym a lot more. I think it’s a good way to release my stress. Listening to music helps a lot and just finding a really good group of people to be around. People that experience the same stuff as you and you can relate to them, but it’s not negative and everybody is there supporting each other.

Jacob – I think a lot of people take the route of isolating themselves or going online, not interacting with people face to face including friends, including loved ones, and it kind of furthers the idea that social media’s kind of hurting our mental health. I think people do that because they are able to escape reality a little bit, they are able to further go down the rabbit hole of TikTok, Instagram, whatever, and are able to escape some of the uncomfortable interactions we have in real life.”

Emma – I would say it’s a lot less now than before, but it mainly was just focused on growing myself and just trying to learn as much as possible so I could grow my perspectives on things and understand other people’s perspectives on life, and just keeping busy.

Ethan – The way people cope with these, with bullying, a healthy way would be to go to close people like your family, close friends, maybe even your counselor. That would definitely help. There are also people that do it in unhealthy ways and it should be addressed and should be stopped.

Lexi – If I had to say an example, I would probably say my parents getting divorced. It happened when I was 7, and has gone on for a while. But like I said, I am very close with my mom. If I ever have doubts or feelings, I just go to her.”

Kayla – I think COVID ending was good for me and I went back to school and wasn’t doing online anymore, because I was sad doing it alone.”

What are some ways as a community or group that we can prevent feelings of sadness or hopelessness? What are some things that can be done individually?

Riley – I think as a community we need to crush the stigma of like mental health [issues] being bad because everybody struggles with it at some point in their life. Some struggle more than others but I think there is a really negative stigma around it saying that if you have mental health problems then there is something wrong with you when that is not true. I think there needs to be overall more support.”

Kayden – One of the main issues I had when I was going through my experience was I had to go to an extensive therapy thing where it was group therapy, but it was all the way in Dayton, and not a lot of people around this area know about it. So I think a big community resource would be able to put up a community therapy area like that. [A place where there is] intensive care where you go there everyday and they teach you about all these different skills to help manage certain mental issues that you are dealing with, and you can do talk to individual counselors if you need, and stuff like that. It was a great program, really taught me a lot of stuff that can really help me do what I needed to do to avoid certain situations that had me in a deep state. I think it would be a really good resource to get in a community like this because it was an hour away to get to the one I needed to get to. Other community resources even would be things like volunteering places. I think we have a food volunteer place somewhere close by, which is really good, but other places that can get people volunteering for things. Making them feel like they have a purpose can really help with mental issues, too.

Sydney – I think strengthening relationships with people like your friends, your family can all help decrease those because those feelings usually come out of feeling like you’re all alone and lost. And if you’re surrounded by other people who care about you and know you, then that can help decrease that.

Jacob“As a community, it is important to make mental health issues more known, especially with friends and friend groups. It’s important that we create a bit of a safety net so that even if you are being bullied, you are able to have someone to fall back on and talk to instead of going back to isolation and falling further into social media.

Lexi – I think it’s important to find someone you can rely on that’s a peer, teacher, parent, therapist, etc. But as a community, I think that we need to watch what we say. What we say in public and what we say online. Just be more positive overall. Go Bellbrook!

Emma – I’m big on growth. So focusing on a goal, and just having goals in general, and not just living your life day to day trying to survive. Having goals and just being accountable to those goals.”

Kayla – I think just looking out for each other and not tattling on each other, but when you notice somebody is acting off or suspicious, I think we need to talk to them about it or somebody else. I also think just being nicer in general to each other.”

Ethan – As a group we could definitely bring these victims into our own group like being welcoming, talk to them about their problems, let them express their feelings. Really, I just think talking to them and letting them expressing their emotions.”

Eagleview News thanks all the participants who spoke to us for this article. Their honest responses and openness was instrumental in this project. 

If you have the urge to harm yourself, regularly feel sad or hopeless, are with a person who harms you physically or emotionally, or if you just feel like you need someone to talk to, please call 988, and talk to your parents or an adult whom you trust.


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