Michelle Banayan, social media director
A stressed-out student walks through school preoccupied with the amount of work that lies before him: studying for two tests and one quiz and playing a soccer game (and this is considered one of his easy days). For him, the academic and social pressures are too high to cope with, resulting in anxiety, causing him to seek outside help from a therapist.
These types of scenarios are not uncommon among adolescents. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 25 percent of teenagers suffer from an anxiety disorder.
“Stress is a combination of how much one has to deal with and if he feels he can deal with those problems adequately,” Beverly Hills marriage and family therapist Rachel Thomasian said. “In adolescents, [anxiety can be the result] of the pressures that are put on by some schools [with academics and extracurricular activities], as well as stress at home. However, it all depends on how well one is able to handle those stresses.”
Though there are various measures one can take to manage his or her stress levels independently, doctors recommend that people dealing with anxiety speak with a therapist.
“As therapists, we provide a really safe place [for students] to talk about anything they want, and unless the client mentions something that can seriously harm himself or others, everything is completely confidential,” Thomasian said. “We simply provide tips and tools that clients can use every day to calm themselves down in any situation in which they feel anxiety.”
However, among adolescents it is difficult to muster up the courage to actually seek help from a therapist. According to Thomasian, “there is a stigma that going to therapy is for ‘crazy’ people, but it really is just for people who are dealing with overwhelming problems.” Furthermore, this stigma prohibits students who would like to receive therapy from taking the steps to actually get it.
“I did not really feel embarrassed with myself about going to therapy. But I was really scared if other people knew I was going because they might think that I have big problems,” an anonymous student said.
Despite this “stigma,” other students choose to be more open with friends about their choice to attend therapy because they feel that doing so makes them feel like they are not alone, as is the case with another anonymous student.
“I knew that I needed help with stress management and I heard from my other friends that therapy really helps,” she said. “Everyone needs to find a support system.”
Although there are teenagers who feel uncomfortable about speaking openly of their therapy, students on campus believe that therapy is not something to be embarrassed about. “I think it’s really awesome when students go to therapy because it’s amazing that they feel comfortable enough with themselves to admit they need help with a certain problem and can ask someone for to aid them,” peer counselor Aubrey Isaacman said.
If students are interested in speaking with someone regarding their stress and/ or anxiety, they do not need to seek a private therapist, but can speak with the various counselors on campus.
“We have a variety of programs, such as peer counselors if students want to talk to people their own age who have experienced similar troubles. We also have Maple counselors and counseling interns to talk to students about how they are feeling,” Norman Aid counseling intern Claire Castle said. “I think it is really important for students who are having stress to come and utilize our counseling services if they are feeling overwhelmed.”