Mental Health: A Silent Epidemic

Cristobal Jaramillo, Discoverer Staff Writer

Over the last several years, students’ mental health crises have increased massively. According to the American College Health Association, more than 60% of students in the United States reported and met the criteria for at least one mental health problem. While statistics in Colombia are harder to come by, adolescents are adolescents and it is not unreasonable to assume that the numbers are similar here. 

For most students, the importance of mental health is not a priority, like sports, homework, and friends are. However, studies have shown that having a healthy mind is of utmost importance since it’s key to people’s overall health and well-being. When the brain is not emotionally and psychologically stable, students are not able to study, learn, or even relate well with others.

Since the pandemic and the nearly two years of isolation it caused, many students have faced mental health challenges like anxiety and depression. This is a problem the school has addressed in order to support its students through one of the toughest stages in life: adolescence. 

“Mental health is important since it’s the base of everything. I noticed that after the pandemic most of us started to live with uncertainty since we didn’t know what will happen. This affected the mental health of many people“ Geronimo Botero, Grade 11, said.

There are over 200 classified forms of mental illness, among the most common are clinical depression and anxiety disorders, which affect people’s behavior or thoughts. Since the 2020 confinement, several studies identified an increase in anxiety and stress among students and young people.

A new study from Mayo Clinic Health System found 1 in 3 students experience significant depression and anxiety, which can negatively impact people’s ability to learn. This can also lead to social and behavioral problems, loss of interest in activities, poor performance, poor self-care practices, a sense of overwhelmingness, low self-esteem, and lack of energy.

TCS has raised awareness about mental health and focused on social-emotional learning. Last school year the school’s Junta Directiva approved a plan for one counselor per grade year. For the first time, the school has a total of 14 counselors. Studies have shown that mental and emotional guidance and counseling help and provide support for students to prepare for academics, career, and social challenges in their future lives. 

“Having a total of 14 counselors does not mean that mental health problems have disappeared. It means that now there are more resources to respond to the need of mental health. Currently having these sources of help is a privilege,” Juliana Sarmiento, Coordinadora de Convivencia, said.

Furthermore, the school now includes the CASEL framework in the curriculum that addresses five broad and interrelated areas of competence: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. The school not only implements the framework in classes but also planning activities like convivencias to help cultivate skills that assist students’ learning and emotional development. 

“At school, we (counselors), teachers are here to educate and students to learn. Over the years, humans have realized the importance of mental health. I am here to teach and guide students, providing them strategies and skills that will help them in their future,” Laura Obeso, Grade 11 Counselor, said.

According to experts, mental health starts with self-awareness. When you feel something and you don’t know how to name it, it’s very difficult to manage it. “Name it to tame it,” Daniel Siegel, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA School of Medicine, said. Not knowing how to express feelings may cause inappropriate reactions.

There are important steps everyone can take to reduce the risks of mental health problems. Eating well, regular exercise, and enough sleep can all help improve psychological well-being and reduce the risk of conditions like depression and anxiety.

According to a survey by the University of Otago, depressive symptoms were lowest for young adults who slept an average of 9.7 hours per night, and feelings of well-being were highest for those who slept for eight hours per night. Activities such as reading a book or playing a sport play a big role in self-care too. 

Routines can also be helpful in building a structure for your day and managing your mental health and well-being. A routine should always have flexibility. Students have many things to do and want to do them all at once.

“During the pandemic, something that worked really well for me was thinking that you can handle everything but not everything at the same time. This has a lot to do with mental health,” Sarmiento said.

“Mental health in young adults is one of the most important issues today. It is something that people need to be aware of in life. Each stage of life has its challenges and people have to know how to overcome them in the best way,” Sarmiento said.

Work Cited

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Student Mental Health is in crisis. campuses are rethinking their approach. Monitor on Psychology. Retrieved December 12, 2022, from,306%2C%202022

David, A. (n.d.). Breaking the stereotype: How open communication about mental health can combat stigma. The Oracle. Retrieved December 12, 2022, from

Health, H. M. (2022, April 8). Sleep diet and exercise & mental health recent studies: Harbor clinic ca. Harbor Psychiatry & Mental Health. Retrieved December 12, 2022, from,conditions%20like%20depression%20and%20anxiety

Impact of anxiety and depression on student academic progress. IBCCES. (2020, April 17). Retrieved December 12, 2022, from