Mental Illness Among High-School-Aged Youth

According to the national institute of mental health, 49.5% of adolescents suffer from any form of mental illness, with anxiety and depressive disorders being the most commonly occurring illness among this demographic. Upper-high school-aged students (17-18) display the highest percentage of reported disorders of this group, at a whopping 56.7%. The symptoms affecting this demographic can range from mild to severe. 

“The [depression] episodes can go on for multiple days at a time,” sophomore Vaneza Castellano said.  “I feel [like I’m] tied to my bed and tired, Even if I had slept all day. My body feels tired from doing nothing. I used to sleep a lot after school, making me have less time to work on schoolwork.” 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depressive disorders are common, however very serious, mood disorders. These disorders ( Which include Major depressive disorder, Seasonal affective disorder, persistent depressive disorder, etc.) affect the way a sufferer thinks, feels, interacts with others, and handle everyday activities. These symptoms have severe effects on students’ productivity in school. 

“It becomes more difficult, even if it is what people would say is ‘Easy Work,’” Castellano said. “My mind tends to wander a lot and completely get off track. Sometimes, I don’t have the mental energy to be able to get out my laptop and work on an essay or homework. The more it piles up, the worse I feel.” 

The Reality of the Issue

According to the Association of children’s mental health( ACMH), only 40% of high-school-aged adolescents who suffer from mental or behavioral disorders graduate high school, a significant deficit from the national average graduation rate of 76%. 

One of the problems that families frequently run into is getting the school to recognize the role of mental health disorders in relation to the difficulty their child is having,“ ACHM wrote.  “Getting agreement to put strategies in place to address mental health issues and help the youth to better manage his or her mental health symptoms at school is sometimes equally as challenging.”


For students suffering from mental illness, treatment is sometimes difficult to obtain. For students whose illnesses obstruct in-class instruction, It is necessary for communication about these difficulties to occur. 

Children with mental health needs often need a variety of types of supports in school for them to be successful,” ACHM continued.

“For example, a child with hyperactivity may benefit from working some activity into their daily classroom routine. A child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder might benefit from their teachers being trained to interact with them in a certain way. A young person who struggles with disorganization might be helped by being taught planning skills. Children who may become aggressive and those who get overly anxious may benefit from exploring what things lead up to those feelings and being taught strategies to recognize when it is happening and things to do to avoid the problem from escalating,“ said ACHM.

To further combat this issue, it is crucial to be aware of the symptoms students and youth face. 

“Children and youth with anxiety disorders may often struggle in school because they are so preoccupied with their ‘worries’ that it makes it hard for them to pay attention,“ said ACHM.

“They may have physical complaints like stomach and headaches and may be frequently absent. They may also have trouble starting or completing their work because they are worried that it won’t be right. Sometimes their fear of being embarrassed, or getting something wrong or their fear of having to interact with others may lead them to avoid group and social activities and perhaps school all-together.”

Students who wish to drive the direction of counseling at Klein Cain may participate in their survey here.