Students cope with the silent struggle of anxiety at Redwood

Natalia Lazor

The Bring Change to Mind Club making stress balls during a meeting.
The Bring Change to Mind Club constructing stress balls during a meeting.

According to a recent Bark survey, 29 percent of students self-reported that they often struggle with anxiety. For teens, the definition of anxiety is different from other age groups, because it is typically related to the stress felt at school.

The topic of anxiety itself may often get glossed over but for the student population that experiences it their struggles never cease. However, there are plenty of people students can reach out to and places to seek help on campus. If the pressures and unease of school seem to be too much to handle, Redwood offers many services such as the Wellness Center.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines anxiety as “an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.”

Some students endure these physical and emotional manifestations every day. Wellness Center Coordinator and licensed clinical social worker Jennifer Kenny-Baum believes students experience anxiety due to the insurmountable pressure felt at school.

“It’s a super high-pressure, high-stakes environment and I see students who experience so much stress and anxiety just when they’ve simply missed a day of school for being sick,” Kenny-Baum said.

The Wellness Center was created to offer a safe space where students can seek refuge from some of the pressures throughout the day. Students have access to two full time therapists and many other facilities such as sexual and mental health clinics. Kenny-Baum has seen many kids who struggle with the challenges of the desire to be perfect.

“On some level, there are these benefits to [a high achieving community]; this is a culture and a community that is really driven to succeed, ” Kenny-Baum said. “It’s that you always hold yourself to the highest standard that is never achievable because you can never be your best self every day.”

According to the California Department of Education, the class of 2016 graduation rate for Marin County was 90.9 percent and 97.0 percent for Redwood High School. Additionally, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the national high school graduation rate is 83 percent. The student population at Redwood is very ambitious and for the near one-third of students who struggle with anxiety regularly it is difficult to keep up.

Licensed psychologist Julie Wolfert suggests that the expansive list of symptoms caused by anxiety seem to affect most kids, but the effects are more drastic on those suffering from social anxiety.

“An example would be discomfort in social situations, being embarrassed to eat in front of others, getting extremely uncomfortable speaking in front of others, self-doubt in social situations,” Wolfert said. “While we all experience some of these symptoms some of the time, with pe

Founding the Bring Change to Mind Club, seniors Nicole Fazzari and Lindsay Taitz organize meetings every Tuesday.
Founding the Bring Change to Mind Club, seniors Nicole Fazzari and Lindsay Taitz organize meetings every Tuesday.

ople who might meet the criteria for a social-anxiety disorder, their symptoms are disruptive to their daily functioning.”

Senior Katie Israel expressed feeling some of these symptoms in her struggle with anxiety, which is a part of her daily life at school. Sometimes the worry comes simply from the anticipation of everyday activities going wrong. Frequently, her trouble is simply just going to class but Israel expressed a feeling of never really knowing how she will be impactedaffected and to what extent.

“Sometimes it wouldn’t have anything to do with what we were doing in the class, it’s a chemical imbalance that will just hit you in any time,” Israel said.

The Wellness Center always extends a helping hand, but if students are seeking a peer or someone in a similar situation to relate to, the Bring Change to Mind Club can provide just that.

Seniors Lindsay Taitz and Nicole Fazzari brought the Bring Change to Mind Club to Redwood. They established this club to destigmatize the beliefs regarding mental health disorders and create another place on campus where students can find a welcoming group of people and seek comfort alongside them. Taitz stated that they were looking forward to being the younger face of wellness. According to Taitz, their Bring Change to Mind Club is one of about 27 in Bay Area schools.

Working on alleviating some of the stress experienced at school, the club makes stress balls.
Working on alleviating some of the stress experienced at school, the club makes stress balls.

Bring Change to Mind is always looking to recruit more members and searching for ways to help our student body. The club provides a new alternative for those searching for someone or something to help cope with the silent strain with anxiety.

Anxiety is all around us, though we may not see it. For the students of the Redwood population who do live with this disorder, it’s worth knowing the people who offer their help and services for support and assistance.