Devastating Mental Health and Totino-Grace’s solution

What are the main factors in this tragic situation?


Abby Juntunen , Student

Nationally, students’ mental health has been on a consistent decline. With COVID-19 on the rise, it simultaneously raised mental illness. What can school possibly do to counteract this crisis? 

This mental health crisis is nothing new. From 2009 to 2019, the CDC conducted a study with high school students; results show a 40% surge in feelings of unhappiness. Anna Esaki-Smith, the education expert, announced, “US has been on a steady decline from 2013 to 2021, with an overall 135% increase in depression symptoms and a 110% rise in anxiety symptoms.” 

Many will claim Covid is the main factor in this situation. Covid has worsened an already terrible situation. But Covid-19 is not the sole contributor. 

With that said, we must not underestimate the effects of Covid. 

Covid has affected us worldwide. “Everyone saw someone who was affected by Covid-19 on social media” claimed a TG junior. This made the situation much more personal.

“Social media is the leading contributor to the rise in mental health issues, ” said Mrs. Broadhead, Principal of Totino-Grace High School. “Humans are meant to be together and social media is a place that fosters loneliness. With social media, you are constantly able to compare yourself to others, not always living up to the ‘ideal’ standards.”

Generation Z has grown up not just with social media, but in it. That makes it increasingly difficult to ignore the bad news circulating around. 

One Totino-Grace junior said, “Mental illness has always been around, people are more willing to accept they have depression, anxiety, etc. Now we are documenting it.”

Not many people talk about the lasting effects Covid has had on the mentality of college students. “About three-quarters of college students rated their mental health as ‘well’ prior to the Covid-19 outbreak in March 2020, but nearly half (48%) say their overall mental health worsened since the pandemic” said Megan Leonhardt. 

More often than not, poor mental health is reflected in grades. In a survey conducted by Fortune, 6 in 10 college students said their difficulties with mental health affected their academic performance. 

Yes, mental health affects your grades, but you can still push through and at least graduate, correct? Students are more likely not to graduate when faced with mental health issues. 

The director of college Planning/School Counselor, Mrs. Jackson, said, “There has been an increase in anxiety which may deter students from coming to school.” 

Schools were not equipped to handle this devastating crisis. In fact, 35% of colleges have reportedly limited counseling sessions. If schools want graduates, they need to give resources students can use. 

Totino-Grace has a support group called the mental wellness club. A member of last year’s mental wellness club said, “Mental Wellness club gave a spot to talk about difficult things and keep it confidential.” 

Emmanuel, the student leader of the mental wellness group, said, “You are not solely looking to an adult, but rather supported through a collaborative group.” They are planning to expand outreach to students, host events, paint, and bring back therapy dogs during finals. 

Counselors are available if needed for more than just a conversation about grades. The counseling department has been proven helpful in giving Totino-Grace students the resources required. 

Teachers can be helpful as well. Mrs. Hand has offered a safe space in her classroom, before, during, and after school. 

Totino-Grace has done a wonderful job attending to our needs, but we can always do more. Spreading awareness through more open conversations and correcting misinformation. Overall, being more sympathetic. 

The community of TG needs to be strengthened. Offer support to your peers. Change starts with those willing to change.