GHENT, WV (WVNS) – Studies show teenagers across the nation are struggling with their mental health now more than ever before.
According to data from the CDC, 42 percent of high school students reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness in 2021.
Twenty-two percent seriously considered attempting suicide.
59News spoke to students from Princeton High School about their mental health, and there was one major recurring theme.
“It makes me feel anxious a lot,” said Junior Patrick Anderson.
“It puts a lot of anxiety on somebody,” said Senior Isabella Mullens.
“I’ve definitely dealt with a lot of anxiety,” said Senior Isaac Schafer.
For all three of these students, the root of that anxiety comes from constantly feeling pressure.
Pressure to make good grades, pressure to be attractive, pressure to go to college, pressure to drink or smoke, pressure to be skinny, pressure to live up to the expectations of parents or teachers.
Schafer said he feels like his dream career of becoming a psychiatrist constantly hinges on making the grades.
“I feel like a lot of (the pressure) is me because I’m pushing myself to be the best, which is sort of healthy,” Schafer told 59News. “But at the same time, I feel like friends do (add) the biggest amount of pressure because you’re competing in a way. You’re competing like ‘who is going to be the best’?’”
Senior Isabella Mullens told 59News she feels like between trying to excel in school and balance an active social life, she is barely able to take time to do the things she enjoys most.
“When it gets to like, ‘Oh you also want to have fun,’ you don’t really have time to do that because you’re so worried about doing good in school and keeping your friends happy,” said Mullens.
Mullens said maintaining a healthy social life can be extremely difficult for today’s teenagers. Between texting and social media, she is in constant communication with her friends.
But after a year apart due to the pandemic, Mullens said it took a long time before she began to feel comfortable in in-person social settings – and she is still feeling the repercussions.
“I’m definitely more comfortable (in person) than I was before,” said Mullens. “But like, I would still prefer texting somebody over talking to them.”
Junior Patrick Anderson said he knows when it comes to getting into college, this year will have the biggest impact on which schools accept his application.
So he has loaded his schedule down with three AP classes and one college course. On top of all that school work, he is also in the pep club, and student council, runs cross country and has a job where he works 20 hours a week.
Between it all, Anderson said he lives in a constant cycle of stress with little time for anything else.
“(It’s) Anxiety about making sure that I can get everything that I need done, while also having time to just be a kid a little bit,” said Anderson.
Anderson also told 59News he feels like he is carrying the expectations of dozens of people with him for everything he does.
“There’s definitely a lot of pressure from other sources for me to do well,” said Anderson. “So when I do eventually fail every once in a while, it feels like I’ve just completely messed up and let everyone down.”
So the next time you think teenagers only have partying and sex on their minds, think again. They may be dealing with a lot more than you realize.