Jane*, a 16-year-old sophomore, is like any other teenager. She enjoys spending time with family and friends and unwinding with hobbies such as performing and drawing. And, like any other teenager, she deals with obstacles that sometimes hinder her happiness, including her mental health.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 children aged 13-18 have, or will have, a serious mental illness. Jane has been living with depression since she was 13.
“Many people struggle with depression, and I know most teens have the same struggle as I do,” Jane said. “I was in seventh grade and life just began piling up. I had always struggled with sensory processing issues, but then it started to really take a toll on me. It felt worse at school because of loud students, crowded classrooms, and the general discontent I could feel around me.”
“Many people struggle with depression, and I know most teens have the same struggle as I do.”
After discovering that being at school was a trigger, Jane and her family sought out help during her freshman year. She was determined to stay in school despite the heavy workload and lack of personalized assistance because she was worried about losing her friends and the community she had found in her drama club. But when she began to face even bigger challenges, she decided it was time to look for educational alternatives.
“The tipping point for me was the bullying,” Jane said. “I had always been bullied, but it got worse when rumors began to spread.”
Jane and her family began searching for other options, finally deciding to enroll full-time at ASU Prep Digital. This allowed her to work at her own pace, from home, on her own schedule.
“I already had one friend enrolled in ASU Prep Digital and she was enjoying it, so I decided to join too,” Jane said.
After making the switch to online school, Jane noticed a significant shift in her day-to-day life, including her mental health.
“I’ve gotten to spend a lot more time with my friends, separate from the drama club, dedicate more time to making art, and give myself time to just mentally unwind,” Jane said. “My mental health issues are a bit on and off, but since starting online school I’ve noticed I’ve been having less problems with my anxiety and depression than I did before and it’s been such a major relief.”
Not to mention, she’s enjoying school a lot more now, too.
“In my previous school, the teachers didn’t make an effort to care about me or my learning. All they cared about was if I was passing or not,” Jane said. “But here, I feel like my teachers genuinely care about me and they’re always reaching out to me, which I enjoy.”
For Jane, the extra care and personalized learning has allowed her to flourish. And having the time to dedicate to hobbies that help keep her grounded has been a welcome benefit.
“I do a lot of theatre in my spare time, and I love to draw,” she said. “Art is probably my biggest hobby, and I’ve even considered selling it!”
While Jane continues to find ways to keep her mind and body healthy, she asks for one thing that many teens who have experienced anxiety or depression need: patience.
“It can be difficult to express how it [depression] feels to adults, so I just ask them to be patient with me,” she said. “Taking time to understand what I’m going through when I’m feeling badly is some of the biggest help I can get.”
If you are living with a mental illness, you are not alone and your story matters. Find a list of helpful resources here. If you’re curious about whether or not online school may benefit you, we invite you to schedule a call with an admissions advisor or browse our FAQs to determine if ASU Prep Digital would be a good fit for you.
*The student’s name has been changed for this story.