By Mackenzie McPadden-Gambler, Staff Writer
High school tends to be a tough time for many people and the mental health of students is often negatively affected by school. Students value and protect their mental health, yet it is frequently pushed to the side to satisfy the many demands of schoolwork. New Paltz High School is no different, many students tend to focus on getting their school work done and in turn put their mental health on hold.
“I think that students, oftentimes, aren’t even aware of how their mental health is impacted,” said Shannan Magnetico, the health teacher at New Paltz High School. “They get very accustomed to the day to day grind and they don’t even pick up on certain things.”
Students tend to get wrapped up in their school work and busy schedules. Although they may try to make time to build good mental health, students are often stuck trying to get school work done on time, causing their mental health to be disregarded. Many students may not even realize how procrastination hurts their mental health but the longer they wait to start building the foundation for their mental health, the harder it will become.
“If a student has high expectations for themselves and doesn’t feel as though they are able to meet these expectations,” wrote Mary Kay Fiore, the New Paltz High School psychologist, “it can cause a great deal of anxiety.”
Students’ high expectations for themselves can drive their work and create a more productive environment, but it can also create anxiety. This build up of anxiety can make it harder to get school work done and make students’ work space more malignant than productive. Countless students struggle with their own expectations of themselves, which makes it hard to feel accomplished in school. A normal level of anxiety can quickly turn into severe crippling anxiety if their mental health is not cared for.
“As a student I feel stress all the time,” wrote an anonymous high school student. “It’s so important for me to try and keep my stress and anxiety in check because when I feel good, I’m the best I can be.”
In a poll I conducted, 100% of students said their mental health is important to them and many agree that they try their best to keep their mental health in check. One student shared that one bad day can turn into leaving your blinds closed and sleeping all day. So it is extremely important that students try their best to pay attention to their mental health and create a healthy mindset. Based on the poll, mental health is something that students take very seriously, but is also easily neglected.
“It’s easy to feel like your education is the only thing that matters,” wrote an anonymous student, regarding the effect school has on their mental health. “As a consequence, you prioritize your mental health less.”
Students put their mental health at risk by adopting the all-too-common idea that education comes first. Yes, education is very important, however, when students’ mental health is neglected it becomes harder and harder to later create a healthy mindset and mental health. Students can get tunnel vision on trying to get school work done, forgetting about the needs of their mental health, and how it can be affected by seemingly miniscule decisions. The pressure that is put on students makes it difficult for them to find a balance between the struggles of school work and good mental health.
“I’ll take a hit on my mental health to get it [school work] done,” wrote an anonymous high school student, “in hopes that I can have more time to myself to energize later.”
The need to get school work done with the idea of taking time for yourself later creates a vicious cycle of students putting school work before themselves. Many students agreed with this and said regardless of their mental state they try to get their homework or other school work done. The hope that students will have time later for themselves to do beneficial things for their mental health is unrealistic because there will always be another assignment. This ideal causes many students to continuously put their school work before their mental health.
“It also consumes so much time that could otherwise be used to cope with daily struggles,” wrote an anonymous high school student, referring to school work, “that are a reality for many students suffering from mental illness.”