Journaling and Mental Health

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Sydney Williams December 15, 2022 Founders Corner

Mental health issues weigh heavily on high school students. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly a third of adolescents experience a mental health disorder at some point during their high school years.

Here at Stride, more than a few school leaders have told us that mental health isn’t just an important point of concern—it’s become the only point of concern.

Common mental health issues among high school students include depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and substance abuse. These conditions can have serious consequences for students’ academic performance, social relationships, and overall well-being.

Schools, parents, and other caregivers need to be aware of the prevalence of mental health issues among high school students and to provide support and resources to help students manage and improve their mental health.

Read The Mental Health Crisis for a discussion on worsening trends among young people.

How Schools Can Support Mental Health

Schools can support mental health in a number of ways:

  • Providing mental health education: Schools can help to promote mental health by offering education and information about mental health issues and how to manage them. This can include lessons on topics such as stress management, healthy coping skills, and the importance of self-care.
  • Offering mental health services: Many schools have mental health professionals on staff, such as school counselors, social workers, and psychologists, who can provide support and guidance to students dealing with mental health issues. Schools can also make referrals to outside mental health providers if necessary.
  • Creating a supportive school environment: Schools can foster a positive and supportive environment that promotes mental well-being by providing opportunities for students to connect with each other and with adults in the school community, and by encouraging open and honest communication about mental health.
  • Providing resources and support for parents and caregivers: Schools can also support mental health by providing resources and support to parents and caregivers, who play a critical role in the mental health of their children. This can include information about mental health issues, guidance on how to support a child dealing with mental health challenges, and referrals to outside mental health services if needed.

Overall, there are many ways that schools can support mental health, and the specific approach will depend on the needs and resources of each individual school.

The Benefits of Journaling

Research and use cases have shown that journaling has many benefits for mental health, and this is particularly true among high school athletes and students.

One study, for example, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that writing about traumatic, stressful, or emotional experiences can have a beneficial effect on the immune system and can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Existing Evidence

Other research has shown that journaling can help to improve mood and increase feelings of well-being.

A sample of some of the existing evidence into journaling’s benefits include the following studies:

  • Expressive Writing: An Alternative to Traditional Methods (Springer)
  • A School-Based Expressive Writing Intervention for At-Risk Urban Adolescents’ Aggressive Behavior and Emotional Lability (Taylor & Francis)
  • Interactive Journaling as a Clinical Tool (Journal of Mental Health Counseling)
  • The Therapeutic Use of Journaling With Adolescents (Taylor & Francis)
  • Online Positive Affect Journaling in the Improvement of Mental Distress and Well-Being in General Medical Patients With Elevated Anxiety Symptoms: A Preliminary Randomized Controlled Trial (National Institutes of Health)
  • The benefits of expressive writing for people diagnosed with major depressive disorder (National Institutes of Health)
  • Emotional expression and psychological symptoms: A comparison of writing and drawing (Science Direct)

Engaging in regular journaling can help to reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and provide a safe and private space for self-expression. Journaling can promote personal growth and self-awareness, enhance problem-solving and decision-making skills, and improve sleep.

Journaling can also boost confidence and self-esteem, which can be particularly beneficial for high school athletes and students who may be dealing with the challenges and pressures of competition and academic performance.

A Space to Process Difficult Emotions

One of the key ways that journaling supports mental health among high school athletes and students is by providing a space for them to process and make sense of difficult emotions and experiences. For athletes, this can include the pressure of competition, the challenges of training and recovery, and the emotions that can come with winning and losing.

For students, more generally, this can include the stresses of academic performance, social relationships, and the transition to adulthood.

Writing in a journal allows individuals to express their thoughts and feelings in a safe and private space, which can help to clarify their thoughts and feelings and provide a sense of release and catharsis.

Journaling can also help to promote personal growth and self-awareness among high school athletes and students. Reflecting on their experiences and tracking their progress over time can provide valuable insights and help individuals to identify areas for improvement and set goals for the future. This can be particularly useful for athletes who may be working towards specific performance goals, as well as for students who may be planning for college or other future endeavors.

Improved Problem-Solving and Decision-Making

In addition to these benefits, journaling can also enhance problem-solving and decision-making skills. Writing about challenges and problems can help individuals to think more clearly and logically about potential solutions, and can also provide a space for brainstorming and idea generation. This can be particularly useful for high school athletes and students who may be dealing with complex and demanding situations, such as balancing academic and athletic commitments or navigating social relationships.

Furthermore, journaling can improve sleep, which is an essential aspect of mental health. Many high school athletes and students struggle with sleep due to the demands of their schedules, and this can have negative consequences for their mental and physical health.

Writing in a journal before bedtime can help to calm the mind and prepare the body for sleep. It can also provide a space for individuals to process the events of the day and let go of any lingering worries or concerns.

Overall, journaling is a valuable tool for supporting mental health among high school athletes and students. It provides a space for self-expression, personal growth, and problem-solving, and can help to reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and enhance confidence and self-esteem.

By incorporating journaling into their daily routine, high school athletes and students can take an important step towards managing and improving their mental health.

Sydney is Stride’s Founder.