Mental Health at UHS


Karina Pandurangadu

An image of the Counseling Department at UHS.

Karina Pandurangadu, Staff Writer

Over the past decade, academic stress and mental health complications have skyrocketed. Students now consider academic pressure to be their greatest stressor, even among other issues that adolescents face. 

With UHS’ rigorous school environment, academic pressure can become overwhelming. Family, peers, and even students themselves can have unreasonable expectations, which can cause an immense amount of stress and possibly develop into mental health issues.

While academic stress has been at the forefront of discussions about mental health, students who grew up achieving high levels of academic success still feel extensive pressure to maintain that level, even as expectations rise and classes get harder. Schools like UHS have recognized this issue and provide support for students, but the sources of stress are often outside of the classroom. Growing up in an environment in which young students constantly hear that academics is the most important aspect of their identity and worth can cause them to place additional pressure on themselves as they get older. Students’ values can be easily manipulated by the constant discourse about academic standing among their peers. 

Academic pressure has always been closely intertwined with personal and cultural pressures. At times, it has definitely led to prolonged anxiety and struggles with self-esteem and self-image,” Junior Aniyah Shen said. “But I also get physical symptoms like headaches when my mental health is being significantly affected, which have actually been really helpful in reminding me to slow down and pay attention to my health.”

As academic pressure adds up, students can go down the path towards severe mental health disorders. A study from the National Institute of Health found that a third of teens will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their adolescence. In addition, hospital admissions for suicidal adolescents have doubled over the past decade. 

With such a dismal frontier, what can we do? Blanket statements to “just drop a class” or “just take easier classes” don’t seem viable when a student has dedicated over a decade of their life thus far to education. For UHS students, there is a crew of counselors and on-site psychologists to help students. UHS has also started some student-based initiatives to aid students struggling with their mental health, including the ASB role of Wellness Commissioner. 

“Wellness Commissioners focus primarily on creating a positive and inclusive environment for our students,” Wellness Commissioner, Senior Sam Maradani said. “We also help to host wellness events for specific groups at Uni as well! For example, athletes face a tremendous amount of pressure both on and off season. Coupling heavy amounts of school work along with intense practice isn’t easy, and we want to show our appreciation for them! We plan on showing that same love for our DHH students, fine art and teachers as well!”

Especially at a school like UHS that has so many high-achieving students in many different areas, it’s easy for a student to feel that they are not doing enough or that there is always someone better. While this stress can be overwhelming, students at UHS have found several ways to deal with the stress of academics.

“Running forces me out of my head—I tend to be the type of person who overthinks and overanalyzes, especially when I’m stressed—and directs my attention to a more sensory experience,” Shen said.

Other students alleviate stress by expressing themselves through art. 

“When I’m stressed I like to listen to music to relax,” Junior Maya Fahimi said.

For many students, the environment at UHS fosters an unhealthy mindset, and while this may feel overwhelming, it is important to utilize the resources provided by both students and the school.

“If you ever need to unwind, attend a wellness event, spend time on an activity you enjoy or just read one of Mr. Frat or Ms. Lewis’ wonderful book recommendations in our library,” Maradani said.