Stress is not a stigma

Sarah Markiewicz, Asst. Opinion Editor

As someone who’s just as bent with stress as countless other high school students, I was somewhat grateful to see the effort put into the Wellness Center opening. Still, I had minimal participation in “enjoying” the fair. While the Wellness Center itself seems to be a welcome addition to the campus, the whole idea of a fair just seemed to romanticize the idea of students having mood disorders and issues with stress.

Although coping methods such as therapy dogs, massages, and food are some of the many ways to cope with stress, the fair seemed to dance around the idea of mental and emotional health issues. The only part of the fair that seemed to engage into the serious nature of well-being was the platform for motivational speeches, which wasn’t as heavily publicized as say, the Disneyland raffle that bribed students to visit every station.

Even less heavily publicized was the heart of the fair itself, the Wellness Center. Having had depression for about two years, I’ve opened my eyes to the many people around me who also have problems with their emotional health. I know that the fair does not have to reflect the objectives of the wellness center. Still, the fair should have worked to show that things like therapy and mood disorders should become less stigmatized on high school campuses.

While events like the wellness fair address the needs of many students, there is more that can be done to show students that overworking themselves isn’t a “cool” or even noble thing to do. Friends have been driven to huge amounts of stress and resentment due to the competitiveness of their clubs. Students are belittled for not taking high-level classes, even if those students are talented or have enough stress on their hands.

It’s inevitable that students need to take responsibility for what they want to accomplish, and having a less difficult system of learning isn’t going to teach anyone to persevere. Still, I feel that our school culture tends to focus too much on encouraging simple mind sets, such as the need to make it into a college, when there are other paths such as volunteering, getting a job, or joining the military.
Since I was a freshman, dropping a class seemed disgraceful until I did it. I found myself and others feeling that maybe the classes we had dropped were just not for us. Taking it to an extreme, by dropping out, most students probably feel scared about the future, but it’s still a good decision for people who feel they should.

For people who have stress on top of a mood disorder like depression or bipolar disorder, don’t be afraid of how your teachers or classmates react if you feel like you’re just too wrapped up in stress.
While teachers, mentors, and peer counselors can help us with understanding stress and how to cope, every student needs to understand that while he or she is stressed, everyone else is too. They should do their parts to not only help themselves, but to understand and help each other.