A student’s growth from freshman year to senior year is not linear. There are times of triumph and success, times of struggle and disappointment, but we must work to continue forward when feelings of hopelessness arise.
The common stereotype surrounding boys is that they are meant to be emotionless beings, never crying or being seen as weak. But there are times during life where feelings of hopelessness are unavoidable. There is no recipe for how a young person deals with his emotions and the obstacles that may come his way academically or socially.
When Ashanti Branch, founder of The Ever Forward Club, led the entire Stuart Hall community in a program to unearth and interpret their emotions two years ago, he encouraged students to take off their “mask,” the persona with which someone engages his peers. This was a time for boys to reveal the faces beneath their masks and be vulnerable with one another.
This was an essential event that allowed students to confront one of the largest issues facing youth today. Depression is the most common mental health disorder in the United States for all age groups, with 2.8 million teenagers having a significant episode in 2014 according to the National Institute on Mental Health. With teenagers experiencing mental health issues at such a high rate, ignoring these feelings of vulnerability, sadness, and anxiety is not an option.
Trying times do not need to be experienced alone, and although they are hard to endure, there is strength in numbers. Finding the confidence to acknowledge an issue and open up to others can make the world of difference. Both boys and men alike is finding the confidence to be vulnerable.
Talking is not easy for a lot of people, but neither is dealing with life without help. Luckily, the resources available to students at a private institution like Stuart Hall High School make it easy for a student to find help. Outside of the school community are a lot of resources such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Teen Line.
Emotional and mental suffering can be some of the most disarming agonies there are, but if a student can be vulnerable enough to acknowledge they need help, the uphill battle becomes a downhill one.