Are Northwood Seniors Suffering from Anxiety?

Recently, a New York Times article asked the question “Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Severe Anxiety?” The article started with the story of Kevin, a high school senior taking three Advanced Placement classes, who attempted suicide many times due to overwhelming anxiety. The article then gets into distressing statistics stating that over the last decade, anxiety has overtaken depression as the most common reason college students seek counseling services. It also states that “In its annual survey of students, the American College Health Association found a significant increase — to 62% in 2016 from 50% in 2011 — of undergraduates reporting “overwhelming anxiety” in the previous year.” On top of that, admissions of suicidal teenagers doubled over the last 10 years, with the highest rates being after they return to school each fall. This article spiked interest regarding anxiety at Northwood School. Are Northwood’s seniors anxious too?

Olivia Skriloff, a senior taking four AP classes, believes the uncertainty of the current political climate and economy adds pressure on students, who worry more about the future.  Yet she feels features of Northwood’s schedule like flex time and easy access to teachers help kids with the college application process in general.

Nicole Kendrick ’18 feels “stressed out of [her] mind all the time.” A Hockey player and RA taking 3 AP classes, she says, “I chose to play hockey, which is obviously a time-consuming sport, but other binding factors like dorm activities and nonessential meetings don’t help. Yet I still need free time to just relax.” She believes the school’s amount of mandatory duties is wearing students down, especially seniors. Nicole believes a weekly off afternoon every Wednesday for all seniors would help. “It would give us time to do some SAT prep, apply to college, work on our Common Application, relax if needed, study for an upcoming test, or even bond as a class.  Giving us a few extra hours with no responsibility gives us the opportunity to choose what to be responsible for.”

Madison McCarthy ’18, a skier taking three AP courses, one honors course, and an independent study, concurs. “We definitely need more free time,” she says. “We always have to do something or be somewhere, and I think it promotes procrastination. Campus can feel suffocating at times and sometimes make us feel rundown. This will probably get worse during winter schedule.”

Some seniors report going to bed at midnight and waking up at four or five every morning, and yet still can’t keep up. How are they supposed to get enough sleep? There are only twenty-four hours in a day, and with classes, flex, school meeting, study hall, meals, sports and other extracurricular activities, students find it impossible to fit it all in. The only “free time” Northwood students really have is their off periods and between dinner and study hall, and that time is often spent studying or applying to college.

It seems that more Northwood students are suffering from severe anxiety, but is the high anxiety level really much of a surprise?

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