Mental Health in High School Emphasized by Tragic Event

Yesterday, August 23, 2022, at Palmetto Senior High School, a student attempted to harm themselves. The fellow students are shaken, and while not all witnessed the event the entire school and community will forever carry this event with them. 


Events such as this highlight the need to be aware of the people around us. Mental diseases can be invisible to most people and because one never knows what another may be going through, friends and family members must be observant. Psychotherapist Reina Chocron says, “When a person tends to isolate themselves and does not want to connect with others it’s an early sign of that [mental illness].” Identifying these symptoms is the first step to curing such an illness.


According to Ms. Chocron, mental diseases can get worse with time if they are not treated, just like physical illnesses. She further clarifies that “becoming aware that you are struggling,” is an early step to getting rid of such a sickness. Acceptance is a hard obstacle to tackle, but by accepting a problem, a person can then start seeking solutions. Someone in denial will never overcome their obstacles and may even make them worse.


Ms. Chocron also believes that nowadays, “Teenagers struggle with a lack of purpose.” Modern-day teenagers are faced with influencers on social media, such as Tik-Tok and Instagram, with ‘perfect’ lives that are unrealistic and unattainable. Such unreachable expectations that are pushed on teenagers are overwhelming and upon realizing that one cannot live up to such a high standard, it takes its toll. Such a toll can lead to physical insecurities as well as material insecurities that can progress into more serious mental health issues.


Stress, while not a mental disease, is a short-term version of one. Everyone feels it, especially when faced with an expectation they feel they need to live up to. Ms. Chocron explained, “Stress is natural, everyone experiences it. The problem with stress is that when you don’t have the coping skills to deal with it.” She recommends talking to a person, whether it is a friend, teacher, parent, or even a therapist, to let the feelings out that hold such a weight on both the body and the mind. Rather than holding the negative feelings, expressing them and confiding in someone will always help to alleviate some stress.


Moreover, each person adapts to find their own coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety. Sleeping, showering, and listening to music are three common ones that many people utilize but usually, everyone has their own unique solution to stress. For example, Shalom Meisels says, “People can avoid being stressed out by thinking in their mind ‘I am putting forth my best effort’.” Others agree with Meitalia Factor, who explains, “I love to turn off my phone and turn on my favorite show.” These are both valid and useful for a variety of situations as they shift the focus off of the stress and onto calming and hopeful thoughts.


Whatever the problem may be, it is helpful to fall back onto a safety net of people that can help. Therefore, surrounding yourself with the right people that will recognize when you are not acting like your usual self is key in managing and overcoming stress. Stress is a normal hurdle that concerns all people, but mental illnesses should be taken seriously and treated as soon as they are identified. If there is someone that is displaying symptoms, such as sadness or anger, reaching out to them is the best option. The Palmetto Senior High School tragedy is a reminder that everyone is going through their own problems, and that a seemingly simple, insignificant “hello” can make all the difference in the world.