Student-led mental health panel discusses therapy, academic pressure


Photo by Charlie Schwartz

Charlie Schwartz, Print News Editor

Students and school therapists shared experiences surrounding mental health at a student-led mental health panel last Wednesday. The event was held by the Ambassadors as part of Mental Health Awareness Week. 

The panel was structured in a Q&A format: The school therapists asked questions, and students answered.

One area the panelists dove deeply into was how academic pressure impacted mental health. Senior Ben Olson said the expectation of having to take all hard classes and have perfect grades is a major source of stress. 

“It affects a lot of students … [who think] that the ‘A’ is average, when really it is above average,” Olson said.

Students also brought up the idea that being at a competitive high school, it is very hard for students to put mental health first and take breaks.

“You are always thinking about school because it is the main thing in your life … and you get caught up in the guilt of not doing your work,” senior Megan Chung said.

When asked about his experience in telling others about his struggles, Olson said he’s had mainly positive experiences. Still, he said, opening up took some time. 

Similarly, Chung said she was embarrassed of having struggles, which made it difficult for her to speak up about them. 

“It didn’t make sense why I was struggling so much,” Chung said. “My grandparents have been through the Korean War and have so much trauma, so why am I sad when I have so much?”

Panelists stressed the importance of seeing a therapist — even for individuals who are not struggling with mental health issues. 

“It is just someone who is there to listen to you and listen to you to help you work your problems out,” Olson said.

Junior Róisín Hernon said it can often be helpful to talk to someone outside of an individual’s own life.

“A lot of the time, parents have a hard time coming to accept that their child is suffering,” Hernon said

Hernon said he encourages anyone struggling with mental health to seek support.

“If you are feeling something, there is nothing wrong with you, it is common and you should reach out for help,” Hernon said.