Mental Health Mindfulness


Neil Mehta

Photo by Neil Mehta; Students participate in various extracurriculars in addition to facing an intensive courseload

Steven Orland, Staff Writer

For some students, maintaining a high standard of academic focus and achievement comes at the cost of social isolation and cognitive decline.  The burden of assignments, exam preparation, and co-curriculars has led to a rise in anxiety levels and declining mental health for Ward Melville students.  This year, the introduction of new clubs and resources aims to improve the mental health of students.  

“As a licensed mental health counselor, I understand the effects mental problems have on people, especially students,” states Ms. Ryan, a guidance counselor and current advisor of the Wellness Club.  She is one of  the 16 faculty in Ward Melville available to students for advice and support.  

The introduction of the Mindfulness club reflects Ward Melville’s new emphasis on mental health.  “Amid the busy lives of students, it’s important they take care of themselves,” Ryan said. “Self-care is not selfish.”

Many students prioritize academics over mental wellness, as sophomore Troy Amari said, “Sports and schoolwork consume a lot of time, and make it difficult to complete assignments.”  However, he considers programs like the Wellness and Mindfulness Clubs to be “positive, since they give students ease of mind and decrease stress for students.” 

The origin of Ward Melville’s newfound concern over mental health may lie in the numbers.  According to The Journal of the American Medical Association, 1 in 6 United States teenagers experience a mental health disorder yearly, and the American Journal of Psychiatry claims that 80% of them do not receive the mental health care they need.  

In a highly-competitive environment like Ward Melville, the awareness of mental health is not something students are familiar with.  In times of distress, many find themselves without reassurance or knowledge of what to do. Ms. Ryan reiterated the purpose of her club saying, “I give students tools to use, like breathing and muscle tension exercises, when they feel tense or anxious and need to relax.  For many students, that’s hard to do.”  

  While the new emphasis on mental health has not yet captured the attention of all students at Ward Melville, the advocation of new resources aims to raise awareness of the issue.  Perhaps it’s time for students and faculty to openly discuss the matter and lend help to those in need.