In a school with 3,700 students it’s not surprising that some students feel stressed, but why is most of the stress coming from one pathway? WAVE stands for Wilson Academic Vision of Excellence, and essentially it’s supposed to be a pathway that focuses on getting the brightest students prepared for college. As a WAVE student I believe that giving students a rigorous workload isn’t worth the anxiety, stress, and burnouts that many students may receive.
Another factor that makes school harder is that most WAVE students are not only successful in class but most are also successful outside of class with sports,music, and arts. Trying to manage school and home life is difficult for most students, but add AP classes, extracurriculars, and sports to the mix and you have a recipe for disaster. Although stress is normal and pushing yourself to do the best you can is great, sometimes students aren’t able to handle stress and that may result in burnouts. This reaction to stress is completely normal considering how overworked WAVE kids are.
Now although some people may argue that students in WAVE did choose to be in that pathway and knew that they would be academically challenged that doesn’t excuse the fact that they don’t have proper support from their teachers and administrators. Of course not all teachers are like this and there are many teachers who go beyond what is required of them and spend time outside of class to help students understand what they are learning. However, in a pathway such as WAVE where being “smart” is praised, it would only make sense that there should be a better support system for students who are under pressure. After talking to many non-WAVE students, it seems that in other pathways such as LPS and SOTA teachers attempt to make better connections with their students. Although actually teaching the class material is important, I believe if WAVE teachers would try to relate to students more and try to make connections with the students then more students would enjoy going to class. A better connection with students would also mean more students are more willing to ask for help and more students would succeed in their classes.
Earlier this year an email was sent out to WAVE parents talking about ways in which students can avoid stress. This is the first year that the WAVE administrators have even mentioned the correlation between WAVE and stress directly to students. Although they make very good points throughout the email, the way some information was phrased made it seem almost demeaning of its students. And although I appreciate the effort of trying to help WAVE kids, I believe they still didn’t hit the mark of understanding and addressing the issue of stress and mental illness.
Their response to the problem was to:
“Be social. Don’t Hibernate. Strike a balance between your academic life and your social life. Plain and simple, you’ll feel better…Drink water. Coffee may wake you up, but water will keep you going. You will feel better. Just carry a water bottle in your backpack and fill it up regularly.” — as if drinking water is an actual solution to the problem.
These self care tips suggest that the issue with mental health stems from physical issues such as being tired, not eating enough food, and getting sick, but that’s not the problem. The real issue is more systemic: the rise of depression and anxiety in teens. A better response to this epidemic would include more information about mental illness and the proper way to deal with it. If they would have elaborated on the last point they made on student services and actual mental health issues then I feel that they would have seen a decrease in mental health issues. At the end of the email the WAVE counselor said, “unfortunately many students wait until they are very unhappy and then the road to recovery is longer.” This is implying that it’s the students fault that they are stressed and not getting help. This directs the blame onto the students instead of the administrators and is not helping the issue in its interiety. It would’ve been more appropriate if they had mentioned how WAVE does cause stress but getting proper help from specialists such as a therapist is the best solution to the problem.
Overall, although this is a step in the right direction there was still a lot of work that could be done in the future to hopefully decrease the amount of students dealing with mental health issues.
If you or anyone you know is dealing with anxiety, depression, or having suicidal thoughts please do not hesitate to visit a counselor or therapist to get help. Teens being mentally ill is unfortunately becoming very common especially among the brighter students but if the students and administrators work together then we could come up with a solution to this rising issue.
Hotline numbers for those in need:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-784-2433
Crisis Text Line: 741741
Memorial Counseling Associates ( a therapist in Long Beach): (562) 961-0155