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Paw Prints Past Issues (2017-2018)

COULD SCHOOL CONTRIBUTE TO THE RISE IN TEEN DEPRESSION?
Lauren Comstock

Lauren Comstock

Lack of sleep can cause depression, while depression can also cause lack of sleep. Webster's dictionary defines depression as a state of feeling sad, "A mood disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal thoughts and tendencies."

In any of your six classes you have probably heard at least one of your peers talk about how they only were only able to get two hours of sleep due to a huge assignment due the next day. Huffington Post states that over 90% of America's High School students are clinically sleep deprived from waking up so early for school, and from the students staying up late doing homework. Teenagers are supposed to get an average of nine to ten hours of sleep per night. However in a survey done with sixteen Clarkston High school students, six people said that they get less than five hours of sleep each night; two students even said that they get two or less every night. It's simply impossible with the amount of homework students get, and after school activities to assume students always have time outside of school to do homework. For example, students who are in drama club, student athletes, students who work, students in advance classes, even students with at home situations where they may have to take care of younger siblings, and it may be harder for those students to get their school work done. Teachers can't always expect students to prioritize their school work over their personal life or other pressing issues.

Matthew Ricketts, a sophomore at Clarkston High School taking several advanced classes, gave me an inside scoop at how much homework he does every night, "I probably spend four hours on homework everyday, sometimes six hours if it's a big project." I then asked if he had any time for other activities he enjoys, and he gave a witty response, "Sure it does! Sometimes I get to eat, sleep, and if I'm lucky, pee." This demand for homework from students can increase anxiety. The Webster's dictionary defines anxiety as the abnormal or overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear. With the pleasure of good grades, college, and their social life. Students with anxiety sometimes have a harder time doing their homework in fear of being wrong. It could help a lot if teachers considered the following: allow flexible deadlines and an option to redo work, learn how to recognize escalating anxiety, understand what you can do to help students who are unable to work due to stress and worries, and allow times for us to de-stress and take a break.

Students who are angry, depressed or anxious don't take in information and don't learn. In an article written by ACMH called "Why Mental Health Matters in Schools," one in ten kids have a mental illness severe enough to affect how they act at school, or at home. However having a later start time for high school students could help drastically. An article titled "Starting School Earlier Increases Depression" tells us that in schools that start at eight a.m or later decreases depression amongst the students. Teenagers often feel depressed, anxious, and even nauseous due to their lack of sleep because of school. Depression can cause a lack of motivation when it comes to doing school work, and sometimes even basic self care needs. Sometimes their lack of motivation due to depression can cause anxious tendencies because of fear of a bad grade.

When asked how we can help teens in Clarkston deal with mental illness, Natalie Parks, a sophomore at Clarkston High school thinks that we should have "days where we take time to educate students on mental health, because some kids might not even realize what they're going through." Students who struggle, although it may not seem like it, have options like going to the school counselor, a therapist outside of school, or even these hotlines; National Suicide Prevention lifeline: 1-800-273-8255, National Depression Hotline: 877-480-2477. There are many others you can contact also.

Depression and other mental illnesses can be extremely hard to deal with if you don't seek help. Allow yourself to admit you need help and don't feel ashamed to. It could save your life.