Anxiety and Depression in High School Students On the Rise


Jennifer Pompa and Ashley Ortega

Claire Castle in her office in the Counseling Center at Godinez Fundamental High School

Jennifer Pompa and Ashley Ortega

There are two major mental health issues becoming more frequent in today’s youth: anxiety and depression.

According to the New York Times, nearly one-third of adolescents and adults deal with anxiety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that about 20 percent of all teens experience depression before they reach adulthood.

In this generation, awareness of anxiety and depression has increased greatly. Society today encourages people to become vocal, as opposed to earlier generations where people were ashamed to talk about their mental health. But where can students get help?

At Godinez, there is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Claire Castle who works for the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE). She believes anxiety comes from constant worrying due to school and the outcomes of making decisions.

She typically has a full caseload consisting of students from grade 9 through 12. “I’m really glad school-based mental health is becoming more prevalent because it’s more needed now,” Castle said.

She states that there are a lot of reasons why this generation is dealing with mental health issues. One reason being there is the pressure on this generation for success. Another is social media. The Huffington Post said, ”With adults spending on average 2.1 hours and teens 2.7 hours per day on social media, we have a growing desire to stay continually connected to what others are doing.”

Junior Gloria Bello said, “Social Media has caused low self-esteem because it promotes perfect images of girls and boys and people post the best parts of their lives.” School according to Bello has been another cause for anxiety and depression. “There’s so much stress to do your best, but we get stretched too thin with all the homework,” she said.

Other people on campus who can help students struggling with anxiety and depression are counselors. Counselor Michelle Holguin gets multiple visits a day, and at least once a week she gets a visit from someone who is really struggling. Holguin, when asked about the main cause of anxiety, said, “I would say family issues and grades.”

Castle also stated that there is a lot of pressure on our generation to get into college and succeed. With the amount of homework students have every day, and their extracurricular commitments, students become stressed due to their increased workload. According to CNN, the excessive homework load left to high school students causes high-stress levels, an unbalance in children’s lives and physical health problems like weight loss and migraines. The high stake competition to get into the “right” college also increases the pressure put on students.

Junior, Steffany Rodriguez said, “Often times people joke about depression and anxiety but this is something we shouldn’t joke about.” Steffany believes people should observe the people around them to see if they are suffering with mental health issues. She also said, “The person struggling will be the last person you expect it to be.”  

On campus, if any student needs help, counselors are free to talk. If you need further guidance you should ask to be referred to the school’s Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

Castle said, “Reaching out is the number one thing to do to let people know you’re struggling.”