When the school year starts, students at Bonita Vista High (BVH) seem to have enough energy to participate in classes and keep up with their grades. This all changes when the season changes. Students usually regain the energy and motivation during spring time because during these “depressing” seasons, they have energy loss. This is a mental health issue called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). In a poll of 975 responses conducted by the Crusader, 32.3 percent of students answered when they feel a change in the seasons alongside with their mood.
SAD occurs because seasonal changes throughout the year affect the brain’s response to light. This disorder makes it challenging to gather enough energy to get out of bed or study. Unfortunately, some teachers fail to acknowledge that some students may be dealing with not solely SAD, but other mental health issues that prevent them from succeeding in their academics, social skills and sleeping habits.
According to the article, Everything You Need to Know About Seasonal Affective Disorder in Kids by Sherri Gordon, in the seasons of fall and winter, about 3% of students are prone to suffer from seasonal affective disorder. SAD is the most common type of depression.”
The main difference between depression and SAD is timing. According to Roger Behavioral Health, signs of SAD depression include changes in eating habits, sleeping habits and loss of interest However, these symptoms differ from clinical depression because they are temporary, only lasting the season and not the whole year. Despite the differences, individuals who suffer from SAD find it difficult to face their challenges.
The sun is a major factor in the development of SAD. According to the article, “Helping Your Student Get Through Seasonal Depression”, Alyssa Abel explains that the sun plays an important role as it is the best source of vitamin D. Vitamin D boosts our energy level and correlates with a person’s serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood with the brain. As a result, a lack of the sun’s presence leads up to vitamin deficiency. This would mean that the low vitamin D absorbed correlates to low energy levels. Additionally, low levels of serotonin can lead to mental health issues like Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
SAD is most common during the colder and darker seasons. Within these seasons is when students have to put in their motivation, time and energy into studying for finals and midterms. It is important to acknowledge the major increase of workload during this crucial time period.
Mental health should praised and be a priority. At BVH, staff and teachers acknowledge that mental health matters and may ask students how they feel from time to time. However, there need to be active steps to help those struggling with mental health issues.
For the first few months of school, staff sent out these “Wellness Wednesday” messages, though the last message was sent Sept. 14. The messages would give students tips to help deal with overwhelming emotions and random acts of kindness to others In addition, BVH social media pages would post mental health awareness related tips.
Rather than forgetting Wellness Wednesday messages, teachers should instead take action that could benefit students. Simple things like taking their students outside to get their work done allows them to get their vitamin D for the day, especially since the days are darker in the fall and winter. Giving students the opportunity to finish homework in class or giving struggling students an opportunity to reach out can help those who suffer from SAD.
Nonetheless, many students portray on the outside that they are doing well with their grades and mental health, but on the inside they are struggling internally with emotional distress.
— Jechaenna Velazco
Teachers have a significant influence on students, but they do not take into account how a students’ mental health affects their academic performance. According to Jennifer Greif Green, teachers lack knowledge so they do not feel ready to address the mental health needs of their students. Instead, they associate poor academic performance with bad mental health.
Nonetheless, many students outwardly portray that they are doing well with their grades and mental health, but on the inside they are struggling internally with emotional distress. BVH lacks the mental support that students may need, as students do not feel comfortable enough to seek support from their teachers.
BVH needs to improve their support to students. Although there are support groups and counselors at BVH, students may be intimidated by the stigma of school support groups. Sympathizing and acknowledging the effects and symptoms of SAD can help lift the weight off students dealing with it.
In doing so, students will know they are not alone and have someone that will be there for them. Teachers should address that they school is a safe space and they must take into consideration how SAD affects students. If students feel depressed or are dealing with any type of emotions, they should know teachers are available to help them.