The Mental Health of High School Students

Teenagers across the world struggle with fitting in and tend to care what other people think of them. They want to be independent, but then again they do not want to be alone. This causes teenagers to feel stressed out, and their lives to be an instant headache. More times than none, almost all teenagers want to be accepted and get along with other teenagers. As teenagers get older, friendships become more meaningful and important. When they are not accepted or liked, then they feel defeated, self-conscious, and embarrassed. Through close observation and survey techniques, caring what other people think is a common issue throughout our society and teenagers today.

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Students in high school consistently feel stressed over school and relationships, whether they admit to it or not. Recently, I conducted a survey to get more in-depth information about teenagers at my school. I received 24 responses, a mixture of boys and girls. About 42 percent responded that they do stress about trying to fit in on a daily basis. That is almost half of the responders that feel like they need to impress someone every day all to just fit in. When students become stressed about this, their anxiety also builds up with the heavy loads of school work they are dealing with. Along with stressing about blending in, they also feel that they are obligated to dress to impress. 58 percent of the teenagers that were a part of my survey wear clothes to impress other individuals, hoping that it will help them build relationships. This is a growing issue in society, and personally, I do not think that anyone should take the time to care about what others may think of them.

Social media is expanding across America and even the world. Technology is used every single minute, by people of all ages, in almost all countries of the world. A study conducted by the Royal Society of Public Health found that several apps such as Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, and VSCO, teenagers and young adults feel increased feelings of depression and poor body image of oneself. My survey confirmed that more than three quarters of high schoolers typically post on social media. About 83 percent said yes, while the other 17 percent said that they do not post on social media. I asked my responders why he or she would post on social media, and I received a wide variety of answers. Majority of the individuals answered something along the lines of just wanting to show other people, “What is going on in my life and the fun stuff that I am doing.” A handful of people replied, “I am proud of the things I do and the people I hang out with.” A response that I had from one individual grabbed my attention. They answered, “I try to make my life seem more interesting than it actually is.” This is a common factor in posting, and I can see that this could be the case for many posts that teenagers post. When teenagers post on social media, often times they watch how many likes or comments they are getting. It can seem like the “cool” thing to do when they have a very active post. This situation is also related to wanting approval from other people.

To many students in upper grades in middle school and several high school students, it can become important or almost ideal for people to fit in by approval. 70 percent of Dassel-Cokato High School students concurred that they try to fit in by other individuals’ approval. That leaves only about 30 percent are confident with where they are. Once individuals get approval, they are happy. The happiness does not last very long after that. The person who gave “approval” gets bored, moves on, and is looking for the next big thing. That teenager spent all that time just trying to get approval, and it is already out the door. The mental health and confidence of the person automatically shoots down hill, and then they are at the bottom again, searching for someone else to have their approval. Teenagers constantly set themselves up for disappointment by waiting all of that time to fit in. Although it is important for kids to be kids, it is also important for them to realize that the future should be taken into consideration. The one person that the individual would want to accept them will not mean anything once adulthood hits. Kids of all ages should not be afraid to be themselves, and should take into realization that people will love you and accept you for who you are.

In high school there are two major roles that can divide teenagers into two very different groups. One group is the leaders and the others are the followers. Leaders are a group of people who are comfortable with stepping outside their comfort zone and being able to voice their opinion without caring what others think. Followers are almost the complete opposite. Followers stand behind the leaders, go with the flow, and do not want to be judged by other individuals. In many high schools, students begin as followers, and normally grow into leaders. Out of my 24 responses, 71 percent of the group responded to their role as a leader. That leaves 29 percent as the followers. That small 29 percent will quickly grow into leaders, as they become more comfortable with their surroundings, and see other people doing it as well. Allison Linz, a sixteen year old girl from Dassel-Cokato High School, says, “I am not afraid of voicing my opinion and not worried about what other people think. People are going to judge others no matter what.” She is very right. People of all ages will make an opinion about you, so we may as well do whatever we want. I got a variety of other responses as well such as, “Leader, this past year has made me step up and I am okay with it.” A few others replied, “A follower, I don’t like being the center of attention.” And others said, “I can be both, it just depends on the situation.” For many, that is most likely the case. The scenario can determine if you are willing to be confident and a leader if it is something we are okay with. As many like to be a leader, it has forced the individuals to step out of their comfort zone.

The comfort zone is a very thrilling yet terrifying emotion. It sounds amazing to be able to do outgoing things and not be afraid. For 42 percent of my responders, they love the experience of stepping out of their comfort zone. I got responses such as, “It is a lot of fun!” and, “Yes, it increases my personality.” and, “It is good for everyone to try new things.” It can be life changing to step out and do something you would not normally do. However, the majority of teenagers do not find stepping out of their comfort zone very thrilling. Some responses were, “I get scared easily.” or, “I like being familiar with what I am doing.” and, “Sometimes, but I get nervous easily and do not want to fail.” Failure can be a major set back to almost all teenagers. The idea of it just does not sound like a great experience. Consequently, failure is healthy for teenagers. In high school, our personalities and egos are changing and failure can teach that a lesson. It can be difficult to comprehend, but the future is always ahead. Mistakes teach everyone lessons, and can make us think about the future. We can only learn from failure or mistakes, and that is how you change your mindset and strength. Failing in front of others can be the hardest part. 71 percent of people feel unhappy when they are disliked, leaving only 29 percent okay with it. It can be hard to move forward after that failure, but then you learned a lesson. Keep your chin up, and move on to the next big thing.

As more information has come to our attention, society and teenagers are afraid of what others think of them. It is a natural instinct we have, and someday we will grow out of it. It takes time, patience, and confidence, but everyone does get there. Days can get hard when worrying too much, but taking things one day at a time can ease your life up. Making sure that you are doing things to make you happy can solve many minor problems. It is highly encouraged to be yourself, and not worry about others, they are probably just as worried as you are. Be brave, and strive to do very big things without worrying about what other people think. 

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The Mental Health of High School Students. (2022, Sep 11). Retrieved February 4, 2023 , from

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