Identities Unmasked

City’s newest club attempts to shine light on the issue of teenage mental health


High school is a stressful time: it is a time between childhood and adulthood when everyone expects you to act like a grownup, and to not crack under the pressure of school. If You Really Knew Me aims to create an environment where anyone with any issue can come, feel comfortable, and talk about whatever they may be dealing with. Creating a mindset in kids that it is OK to talk openly about mental health is important. As the world becomes more and more stressful, having a generation that is comfortable confronting their emotional problems will be key to their success in the future.

However, high schoolers don’t need a shrink to tell them that high school is a difficult time. We’re all kids trying to transition into adulthood within an environment that’s the social equivalent of Salem, Massachusetts while they were weeding out the witches. No two high school experiences are alike, and for those who struggle in the system they exist within, this club could be just what’s needed. The open, accepting environment is the polar opposite of the circumstances that create such division. The idea that there’s truly a place that teens can go to find acceptance and empathy from those who may understand, whatever might be happening in one’s life, is truly revolutionary.

Programs like If You Really Knew Me are becoming more needed as high schools increase the amount of AP and honors classes offered. As the number of advanced classes increase the workload of an average workload of high school students enrolled in normal classes increases as well. A recent study conducted by the American Psychological Association found that when asked to rate their stress levels from 1 to 10 teens on average gave 5.8 while Adults gave 5.1. If academic rigor continues to increase as it has been, so will the need for increased emphasis on the country’s mental health.

Teenagers are stressed. While it may be a problem, it is not shocking new information, high school has always been a stressful time. In the future, stress could start filling kids lives much sooner, as in many elementary schools around america teachers have started encouraging college preparation activities as early as first grade. While college may be a process that requires preparation, this is too extreme. With levels of depression among college freshman rising every year, we don’t need kids to feel even more pressure, and from an earlier age. Locking a child into a career path and a specific college campus makes them feel like their lives are out of their hands, and will only make angsty, hormonal teenage years all the more difficult.

Groups like this bring a sense of hope back for future generations of high schoolers, as with each passing year, the trials of teenage years grow more difficult. It is very rare for younger people to be able to open up without fear of judgement, and the social environment of high school is very hard to change. Since the creation of the modern high school, countless psychologists and enthusiastic guidance counselors have tried to improve the teenage disposition, and there’s nothing more sure to get a negative reaction from teenagers than attempting to tell them how to exist. As such, school administrations are left with a serious conundrum: how do we make adolescents play nice? The truth is that such a task is impossible.