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The impact of puberty on mental health
September 16, 2022
Over 45 percent of BHS students feel that there are not enough resources to help teenagers deal with their mental health so there is room for improvement. Schools need to equip people with tools and not a diagnosis since there is a real issue with just giving people labels. It is a choice to disclose this private information so adults must support adolescents with medication and coping mechanisms.
Students must go out into the big world and learn how to process their feelings and emotions through therapy and education. Donna Carlson, the primary nurse at BHS, has recognized this growing issue and knows students need to respond before it’s too late.
There is no concrete way to tell kids, ‘this is what’s going to happen to you’ because we all go through puberty differently. Kids should have a trusted adult to show them the ropes and know what they’re going to experience. — Jay Signer
There is no concrete way to tell kids, ‘this is what’s going to happen to you’ because we all go through puberty differently. Kids should have a trusted adult to show them the ropes and know what they’re going to experience.
— Jay Signer
“Health care is in a challenging situation because we need to know how to get providers and it takes time to build a repertoire of providers to help prescribe medication or schedule meetings,” said Carlson.
Although students face a challenging situation, counselors and doctors have realized that puberty is happening earlier as compared to a century ago. Girls and boys are following similar paths of earlier maturing and a lot of it is happening within the brain. Because of this, young people are dealing with a range of complex emotions at younger ages than ever before.
In addition, Junior Jay Signer believes that boys and girls should learn about the different sexes and how they go through puberty differently as well.
“There is no concrete way to tell kids, ‘this is what’s going to happen to you’ because we all go through puberty differently,” said Signer. “Kids should have a trusted adult to show them the ropes and know what they’re going to experience.”
Having a trusted adult that helps students be more aware of social information is the best way to figure out how to fit into an increasingly complex world. Counselor Amy Harksen believes Bettendorf needs to educate kids at a younger age because children are experiencing puberty at younger ages.
“Upper elementary is where we’re seeing this now and so much is going on in middle school and so I don’t think we’ve caught up with informing parents either,” said Harksen. “There is a rush of all types of hormones coming in and the brain isn’t fully developed. You have these changes happening to your body and teens aren’t equipped to handle it because we’re not getting enough education out.”
To address this, student services are going to be looking at student behavior this year and use more opportunities to select a few mental health issues and remove the stigma as well.
“If we can offer smaller group settings to help all kids feel more normal and say ‘how a lot of people have anxiety,’ that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you, it means you’re normal. I think we are looking to do better and we are doing better,” said Harksen.