School Start Times: How Late is Too Late for Teen Mental Health?

Schools need to prioritize and enhance support for students’ mental health

Schools often focus on addressing harmful social media posts and students who pose a threat to themselves or others rather than those who silently battle with mental health issues. Despite this, over one in five teens between the ages of 12 and 18 struggle with mental health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This can impact a student’s behavior and well-being. If schools truly care about their students’ mental and physical health, they should take steps to improve the support and resources available to students.

One potential way to enhance the well-being of students is by starting school at a later time. Research shows that a significant percentage of teens do not get enough sleep, especially as they get older and are dealing with sports, jobs, and heavy homework loads. Starting school later in the morning can help students to get more rest and improve their mental health overall. In addition to improving sleep patterns, starting school later has also been linked to improved academic performance and decreased stress levels among teenagers.

By focusing on the needs of all students, including those who are struggling silently with mental health issues, schools can create a more supportive and inclusive environment for their students. Aubrianna Spears, a student in Jackson Township, emphasizes the importance of prioritizing the mental health of all students in the school setting. “It’s crucial that we provide equal support for everyone,” she said. “We need to recognize that mental health issues are just as important as physical health issues.” Spears encourages her peers to speak up if they are struggling with their own mental health or if they see someone else struggling. “We can’t ignore these problems anymore,” she said. “We have to address them head-on.”

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