The human body and mind are fragile vessels. For too long we—both as a society and a community—have placed a higher priority on our physical, superficial wellbeing, to the detriment of our mental health.
Perhaps in no other time of our school’s history have questions of mental health been more crucial. The harmful misconceptions swirling around this issue deserve and need to be analyzed. There are many ways for us as a community to confront questions about mental health not unscarred, but at least with a deeper understanding of the plight of some of our classmates.
We can no longer continue to suppress conversations on mental health. Coming forward is a sign of courage, not one of weakness; it is up to everyone else in the community to do his/her part in creating an atmosphere wherein this can take place. Lowering the barriers to coming forward through making it clear to all that PHS is a judgment-free zone is something we all can do every day.
Even if students bravely come forward for help, feelings of deep, profound loneliness do not immediately disappear. These feelings manifests themselves in the tests flunked due to incessant, inescapable anxiety; in the friends turned away, insulted, for no other reason than you were having a particularly bad day. Depression, anxiety, and any other mental issue can not simply be done away with at the wave of a wand; they require diagnosis, treatment and care—just like any other medical conditions. We have been trained in this society to treat the casts and bruises of our friends as superior to their mental and emotional scars.
Our community has already chosen not to sit idly by and allow these pervasive problems to persist unprescribed. A recent initiative by a group of students “hope[s] to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health in our community, make resources available to our student body, and educate both students and teachers on the importance of mental health.” This sort of organized effort is exactly what is required to initiate community-wide healing and learning. But it is important to note that this progress must not be an isolated event; the awareness and discussion must continue for the rest of our lives.
Outside of communal or societal solutions, there is much to be done on an individual level to recognize and assist those in need of help. If a friend is acting abnormal, detached, or in anyway out of sorts, reach out. If you feel anxious, afraid, or inexplicably down, please step forward. You’re not alone.