Mental Health in 2021

Jemima Smith, Community Writer

Mental health has been a slippery slope for many students at WFS, during last year’s virtual-in-person medley and as school starts up in full swing this year. It’s important that our administrators and peers are aware of the current situation and are brainstorming ways to alleviate harmful conditions within our student body. 

The COVID-19 pandemic was hard on everyone, especially in terms of staying healthy. A lack of human connection led to loneliness and declining mental health. The American Psychological Association reported that 81% of teens experienced elevated stress during the pandemic. 

School workload is always a challenge. This year, though, has been pretty tricky. The CDC recommends 8-10 hours of sleep per night for the average teenager. Many students are finding it difficult to get enough hours of sleep in, due to extra-curriculars, sports, and homework. Not hitting all these requirements leads to stress and burnout, starting the cycle all over again. One student said: “I feel like having the same amount of homework from various subjects makes it hard to switch from one state of mind to another. Burnout can be really difficult to deal with, because conceptually, yeah we can get the work done, but mentally it’s not always the same. It always feels like if you do something to relax, you’re making a trade. It’s hard to feel like you don’t have enough to give it your best effort in every subject at once.” 

The school faculty is striving to remain attentive to students’ needs. “WFS is sensitive to mental health balance,” said Mrs. Zug, the head of WFS upper school. “We’ve had a health class in 9th and 10th grades focusing on wellness for many many years. Our advisors are trained to be supported in health and wellness. Faculty meet regularly in grade teams of advisors to discuss students of concern and how to provide support. The counselor is an additional layer of support that we have added to increase wellness.”

Good mental health is an essential element of a thriving student body. It is important now more than ever that we reach out, help each other, and communicate effectively in order to improve mental wellness. Enough sleep, well-balanced meals, and exercise can help symptoms of anxiety. Depression can be improved with time outside, less caffeine and structured social outlets. The newly appointed school counselor, Ms. Litterelle, said: “Building a strong support system and having a plan when things become difficult are helpful tools. Practicing mindfulness, breathing techniques, meditation, listening to music, and going for a walk are all good ways to help support your own mental health. Also, finding gratitude in your every day can also help improve your overall mental health.” Esther Adebi ‘24 said: “Please talk to each other! You’re not going through it alone.. Try your hardest to find people in your classes that you can talk to about what’s going on, whether it be with school or in general… just don’t let yourself carry the weight alone, yeah?”