Mental health in high school students has declined in recent years, with the percentage of American high school students who reported “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness” rising from 26% to 44% from 2009-2021.
This time of year can be especially difficult as teens struggle with the post-holiday letdown and the additional moodiness, low energy, and depression that can occur during the winter months.
If you notice your student exhibiting signs of anxiety and depression (e.g., stress and anxiety around academics, unhealthy eating or sleeping habits, falling grades, disengagement), it may be time to have a discussion with them about how they’re feeling.
These conversations aren’t always easy, but Signet has a valuable tool to help you break the ice: our Mental Health Checklist.
Signet’s Mental Health Checklist
Signet’s Mental Health Checklist is designed to help students and their families learn more about the factors that contribute to mental health and the signs that indicate a mental health issue. Think of it not as a complete diagnostic tool but as a way to get the conversation about mental health in high school students started.
How to use the Mental Health Checklist
Using the Mental Health Checklist is easy. Share these instructions with your student:
- Print out the following checklist
- Spend some time completing the checklist in a calm space, both mentally and physically, and be honest with your answers
- Discuss your responses with a trusted adult, like a parent, teacher, or mentor
- If many of the answers to the questions indicate an underlying issue, consult with a PCP, school counselor, or a mental health professional
Mental Health Checklist
- Are you sleeping 7-9 hours per night? (yes/no)
- If not, how much do you average?
- Do you fall asleep in less than 20 minutes? (yes/no)
- If not, how long does it take you?
- Once you’re asleep, do you stay asleep at night? (yes/no)
- If not, how often do you wake up?
- Do you ever take medication to help you fall asleep? (yes/no)
- Do you exercise at least 2-3 times per week? (yes/no)
- If not, how often?
- Do you drink 8-10 glasses of water per day? (yes/no)
- If not, how many?
- Do you eat at least some fruits and vegetables most days? (yes/no)
- Do you visit your school nurse more than once per month? (yes/no)
- If yes, what are you visiting them for?
- How many days of school do you miss in a year?
- Do you ever find time to get bored (that’s a good thing!)? (yes/no)
- Do you have enough unstructured downtime with friends? (yes/no)
- Describe your relationship with your parents
- Do you spend more than two hours per day in front of a computer or TV screen? (yes/no)
- If yes, how many hours?
- Do you feel connected to at least one adult at school or elsewhere in your life? (yes/no)
Common mental health pitfalls
- Do you notice that you’re anxious or worried on a daily basis? (yes/no)
- If yes, what are you usually worried about?
- Do other people call you “a worrier”? (yes/no)
- Do you feel like you have enough energy most days? (yes/no)
- How often would you describe your mood as sad?
- Do you get irritated or frustrated faster than you’d like to? (yes/no)
- Do you consider yourself disorganized? (yes/no)
- If yes, does it create problems in your life? (yes/no)
- Are you easily distracted? (yes/no)
Review your checklist and pick 2-3 items you’d like to focus on for this semester. Make a plan for how you will improve on each of these items.
Getting Your Student the Help They Need
Depending on the results of the Mental Health Checklist, it may be time to take the next step toward getting your student the help they need. Fortunately, there are many resources available—from physicians to therapists to academic coaches.
If you don’t know where to start, you can always turn to Signet. In addition to offering academic coaching—a service that sits at the crossroads of tutoring and therapy—we can refer you to other well-vetted professionals in our network who specialize in the mental health of high school students.