Poll: Students Aren’t Alone in Their Mental Health Stress

Students’ mental health issues continue to increase dramatically. (Courtesy of PJMixer)

Students’ mental health stability is declining here at Springfield Honors Academy. 

According to a survey run by Sara Runkle, the counselor, over 70 percent of scholars reported feelings described as depressed, stressed, or anxious.

Source: Student Poll

When students were asked in follow-up interviews by The Griffiner how their mental health is this year compared to last year, they said they are experiencing even more issues due to the tension of school being governed by Covid regulations amassed on top of their personal problems.

“I’ve lost motivation to do day-to-day things,” said a sophomore who asked not to be named. “I’ve also noticed my anxiety has gotten worse, and I get triggered a lot more easily than I used to.”

Runkle said she sees about 10 students on a daily basis.

During Runkle’s sessions, most students approach her about issues concerning friendships, relationships, family relations, and academics. Several students have mentioned that they have lost relationships with people they were close with. 

“I’ve even lost bonds I began growing with people at school,” said a sophomore.

I’ve even lost bonds I began growing with people at school.”

— Sophomore

Last year’s online learning was a challenging task for students, too. Students lacked motivation and focus during remote learning. 

“Well if I was on top of it all, then I felt fine and it didn’t affect me,” noted a sophomore, “but if I was ever struggling on something or tried asking for help and then never received it, then I’d start overthinking and it would lower my mental health.”

In recent weeks, Runkle had been using meditation as a way to benefit scholars here with coping skills. during morning announcements. Runkle has been trying to get students to meditate because it has been demonstrated to be one of the most productive ways to help deflect problematic thoughts, along with medication and therapy. Observations have been that students have not been meditating in the time given to them, which is generally short. 

“Oftentimes I find it challenging to focus on meditating within that one-minute time frame,” said a junior.

Runkle has dropped the meditation program, for now; the feedback she received is that the full zoom isn’t a great venue for the meditation. Therefore, she is working on switching it to individual teachers running the meditation for their Griffin, but she hopes that the efforts of the counseling office will help students feel less stressed and more in control of their lives.

Runkle is planning on setting up a student counselor advisory group, but SHA students seem determined to take part in helping themselves and their peers open up.  

The school should provide a space for “a support group during or after school hours where people can join and reflect on their day-to-day struggles,” said a senior. “Make it feel more safe and welcoming; oftentimes we may not speak up because we’re not assured that we can trust [school officials] with our personal life.”

Runkle responded that she listens first to students before making suggestions and that the counseling office recognizes different students have different needs. 

“Some students feel safest when they can go about their day and not be reminded of their stressors,” said Runkle. “Other students need to know that they are not alone and someone has their backs. We are here to support all students.”