As the 2021-2022 school year begins, stable mental health is key to a successful and upbeat student body. According to a study from researchers at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Columbia University, there has been an immense increase in anxiety, depression and suicidal thinking among adolescents in the US. Internalized problems account for the increase in mental health struggles among school-age adolescents, from 48.3% in 2005-06 to 57.8% in 2017-18, a 19.7% increase.
Upper School Counselor Amelia Harmon, says that thinking positively, practicing self-care, eating healthily and making sleep a priority are a couple of ways to improve stress management and create a more positive school experience. “As a student at Pace, you have resources and support at your fingertips. Do not be afraid to ask for help and utilize these resources. You will not always have this much support so readily available to you, so take advantage of it now while you have it,” said Mrs. Harmon. These resources include the Academic Resource Center (ARC), extra help with teachers and using sports or physical activity as an outlet from stress.
Upper School Counselor and Science Teacher Ellye Millaway also provided some tips on managing stress and mental health during the school year. She included being open to new experiences, not ruminating in the past and practicing gratitude. “Remember that stress isn’t always a bad thing! Acute stress helps us perform better, keeps our brain alert and helps us to manage daily challenges. If you get to a point where the stress becomes unmanageable or chronic, reach out for help. Ask your teacher for support or utilize the ARC or one of the counselors,” said Ms. Millaway.
Regarding perfectionistic thinking, Ms. Millaway advises to abide by the ‘Rule of 5.’ “Ask yourself-will this matter in 5 days? 5 months? 5 years? Usually, you will find that the answer is no. If the answer is yes, then this is a problem that you might need some support in managing.” Some of Ms. Millway’s preferred coping and mindfulness activities include exercise, deep breathing or doing something every day that makes you happy, whether that be walking your dog, calling a friend or listening to music.
The Student Advisory Board (SAB), a group composed of students dedicated to promoting mental health awareness, is another resource for Pace students. “We have lots of fun events planned to engage with the Student Body this year,” said senior Allie Campbell. “We hope to have one to two mini events each month.” These events include Love Your Body Week, which takes place in the spring, and Happy Tails, when dogs visit campus in December to give everyone a break from exam prep. The SAB hopes to have speakers come educate students on certain mental health topics, while also providing students with tips on how to manage stress.