Back-to-School Mental Health Awareness

Mental Illness Signs in Returning Students

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Many students might be excited about heading back to school but others could really be struggling. Especially those heading into high school.

“There’s always going to be that natural anxiety when starting up, especially if you’re starting high school or middle school,” said Mallory Kloucek with NAMI SD.

Health experts say symptoms of mental illness often arise in middle and high school-age kids. “Our kids are showing symptoms as young as eight years old. The average is around fourteen,” explains Kloucek.

Symptoms of mental illness can be anything from over-sleeping or over-eating to lack of energy and just general loss of interest, according to Kloucek. If symptoms aren’t treated, they’re not going to go away.

“That gap between symptoms beginning and treatment actually begins is eight to ten years, which is not good. You’re going ten years without getting any mental health treatment,” says Kloucek.

Jordan Stone says she first started dealing with anxiety in high school.

“I was kind of just shaking all the time because of anxiety. When I have panic attacks or when I get very nervous my hands will shake, or my entire body. I was always nervous. I always felt like I was standing on the edge of a giant cliff,” Stone said.

Left untreated for many years, her anxiety developed into depression. Stone had to deal with the symptoms of both.

She finally got help when she was in college.

“Once you seek out help and once you’re really honest with yourself and with those around you, you can find a lot of help and start to feel normal again,” according to the NAMI volunteer.

Part of feeling normal was once again doing the things that made Jordan happy, especially walking and journaling.

“It doesn’t have to be very long, five or ten minutes of just going for a walk.”

“If I couldn’t write it onto a piece of paper it shouldn’t be happening in my head either.”

Jordan says she wants those struggling to know they’re not alone.

“The first thing that I tell kids, adults, anybody that will honestly listen to it, is that they are not alone. Not one person is the only one who’s feeling that way. There is this statistic that one in five people will experience one type of mental health condition, and so that’s twenty percent of the world feeling that way also,” says Stone.

She says the first step to getting better is speaking up about how you’re feeling.

For those struggling, you can do exactly what Jordan did: talk to a school counselor, call the helpline center or NAMI, or reach out to a doctor.

NAMI also travels schools state-wide spreading awareness on mental health. For more information, click here.

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