Ashton Powell

Mental Health


Far too many of our kids finish high school suffering from significant mental health issues such as stress and depression.    

Growing up has always been tough, but I honestly feel that many stressors of today are especially pervasive.  Times are tough for today’s kids with pressures of college admissions, potential school debt, social media, vaping addiction, global climate change, and school shootings weighing in on top of what is already there for the teenage mind to contemplate. 

Many issues stem from the competitive pressures of “getting into college,” a process which seems to start in kindergarten.  Upon achieving their 13-year goal of acceptance, many students find themselves lost, and without an understanding of what comes next… aside from the inevitability of paying off student loans.  Many parents in this district need to reevaluate the impact our culture of competitiveness has on our kids.

Additionally, as a teacher who over the years has been through numerous lockdown drills and several actual lockdowns due to active shooters in the Durham area, I am sad that this generation of kids will equate school with a risk of massacre.  The likelihood of a shooting is minute, but that chance is still terrifying.  This will prove to be exceptionally harmful to the psyche of our children, even though preparation for the unthinkable is the responsible thing to do.  

These pressures will not always manifest in an outward spasm of violence.  Many of our kids look inward and harm themselves in response.  Much of this harm can also manifest in a significant lack of sleep, poor nutrition, overuse of social media, and a dearth of exercise.  We need to see that the mental health of our students is the largest threat to their long-term health and safety.

Too many of our kids are really hurting and for many reasons.  We need more mental health counselors so that we can better address the increasing needs of our students.