Suicide Prevention Month encourages mental health awareness at ASD

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Suicide Prevention Month encourages mental health awareness at ASD

ASD's team of counselors has made it their mission to help with whatever troubles students may have!

ASD's team of counselors has made it their mission to help with whatever troubles students may have!

Photographer: Nadia Benali

ASD's team of counselors has made it their mission to help with whatever troubles students may have!

Photographer: Nadia Benali

Photographer: Nadia Benali

ASD's team of counselors has made it their mission to help with whatever troubles students may have!

Nora K., Social Media Director

In light of the recent recognition of September as Suicide Prevention Month, the ASD high school counselors made an extra effort to spread the word about mental health awareness and its importance to keeping students healthy. 

Many factors contribute to the potential deterioration of mental well-being for teenagers. Some experts have argued that school itself can be a large contributor to depression and anxiety in teens, in that it may place too much stress on developing minds as students try to “survive” high school.

In contrast, some have argued that school gives students a positive drive to strive for a better future and towards their further education.

Asked for his take on the impact of school on mental health, ASD counselor Mr. Izzet Sengel stated that “students spend a significant time of their day in school, so the school can contribute to the mental health of students positively or negatively. What defines the direction of this change is the culture of the education system and school.”

When mental health problems arise, he pointed out, they are often tied to the feeling of being “ignored, oppressed and anxious.”

School-related factors can affect students’ mental health in several ways: 

  • First, harsh competition between the students can lead to negative effects. When there is a high value put on grades and GPAs for college admission or recognition at school, students may try to achieve — or at least not to “fail” — all the time, which can cause massive anxiety. 
  • Students from different backgrounds (race, religion, political views), cultures, and beliefs exist in every school system. If a school succeeds in creating a space where all students feel recognized with their differences, the school will benefit from this diversity because of the participation of all these students. However, schools without this recognition will have an unhappy, depressed, and even angry student population. 
  • Classmates and friends who can cause negative impressions or effects on a student also contribute to mental welfare. If a student is manipulated, bullied, or betrayed by others, he or she can experience a sense of loss or loneliness, either of which can rapidly affect their mental health.

For these reasons, school counselors and psychologists are vital. Providing psychological support at school enables educators to shield and protect students. When a school creates a space for school counseling or a school therapist in its structure, it opens a space to improve their students’ mental well-being.

According to the Boston University Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, mental illnesses can lead to many negative effects for students: 

  • Inability to screen out environmental stimuli
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Lack of stamina
  • Difficulty handling time pressures and multiple tasks
  • Difficulty interacting with others
  • Difficulty handling negative feedback
  • Difficulty responding to change

The prevalence of depression and anxiety at ASD

ASD counselors estimate that cases of depression and anxiety exist among their high school students at rates similar to other like schools because students receive a high standard of education here.

As a result, they often want to continue their education in competitive institutions after graduation. The pressure to continually reach new levels can create a certain level of anxiety among students as they try to equip themselves with different skills and experiences in this constant competition.

Mr. Sengel was quick to point out how common the challenges are: “I worked at a similar school before ASD,” he said, “and the numbers [of anxiety and depression cases] were pretty much the same.”

Suicide prevention and mental health care

Mr. Sengel said the best option for students feeling overly stressed or depressed would be to “talk to an adult as soon as possible about their feelings and getting the right support for themselves. Ideally, this adult should be the parent or the counselor in terms of responsibility and competence.”

It is important for ASD students to be aware of the resources available and use them when they are in need. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about mental health care, some of which deter people from seeking help.

Mr. Sengel hopes students will see mental and physical health in similar ways, and that they will value both. “I believe it is very important to prioritize mental health support like prioritizing the support for physical health,” he said. “Better results will come with early intervention.”