Category Archives: Columns

Q&A with therapist Amanda Hurd, LMHC

By Annalise Bassett

Bagpiper: How are mental and physical health connected?

Amanda Hurd: “These two are deeply connected as they impact and influence one another. A person who is physically healthy is more likely to be mentally healthy, and vice versa. Mental health plays a significant role in how one functions and maintains their lifestyle, especially on a physical level. For example, a client suffering from depression may experience decreased pleasure in once pleasurable activities and withdraw from them. This same person may also sleep too much or not enough, have reduced energy levels, overeat/undereat, as well as gain or lose weight. These depressive symptoms can bring an increased risk for physical health problems. In some cases, a person’s physical health decline may be the first sign of a mental health problem. Being physically unhealthy can also contribute to a decline in mental health with symptoms such as low self esteem, depressed mood, and panic attacks. In addition, research shows us those suffering from chronic illnesses are at increased risk of developing mental health disorders.”

BP: How can school impact a teenager’s mental health?

AH: “Attending school can both positively and negatively influence a teenager’s mental health. Factors such as having too heavy of a workload, short deadlines, social difficulties (low self esteem, social anxiety), not meeting expectations of teachers/parents/themselves, etc can all negatively impact a student’s mental health. On the other hand, it can also positively influence a teen’s mental health by providing support and fulfillment for one’s educational goals, create an environment for the development of quality friendships/relationships, and positively impact one’s self esteem/self confidence as they succeed through the years.”

BP: What can schools do to help anxious and depressed students?

AH: “Assist them in finding an attainable, customizable balance. What works for one doesn’t always work for another. Schools can support students by checking in with them, praising them, being the consistent positive in their day. If the school has concerns, potentially make a referral for therapy services, if services are available, and/or speak to their parents about their concerns. See question 4 also for parental recommendations, schools can create an open line of communication as well, where students can speak freely and be heard.”

BP: How can parents help their kids cope with mental disorders such as anxiety and depression while pushing them to do school work and get good grades?

AH: “I often tell parents of my teenage clients to create an open line of communication with their teens and listen, listen, listen. Validate their feelings and try to work together on solutions, whether that be something they do in the home and/or with the help of a therapist. I also recommend parents to establish healthy boundaries and set attainable expectations for success of their child. Then, revisit these boundaries and expectations after a few months to see what is working, what is not, and what may need to be adjusted. Everyone gets a voice in these situations and comprises should be expected. Overall, setting up an environment where teens are comfortable, able to speak freely, AND be heard are crucial steps to finding solutions that work for the teen and the parents. I would recommend parents with anxious teens to read the book ‘Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents: 7 Ways to Stop the Worry Cycle and Raise Courageous and Independent Children’. This book explains how anxiety is a normal part of life and the role parents can take to assist their kids in responding to their worries versus running from them.”

BP: What is the balance that teenagers and their parents and teachers should find between hard work and helping themselves with anxiety and depression?

AH: “I’m unsure how to answer this one. I will say checking in with those in your support group, and checking in with yourself are helpful ways to see how things are going, what should be added, removed, or adjusted in one’s life to maintain balance. Give yourself room for errors and celebrate accomplishments.”

BP: What do you think are the major causes of such a spike in teenage anxiety and depression?

AH: “Technology; social media and cyberbullying come to mind first. Social media creates a false sense of the ‘perfect’ lives of others and can set unattainable goals. Research has shown an increase in anxiety and depression from exposure to social media and I have worked with clients in my office who have reported an increase in their mood after eliminating some of the stressors of social media, or closing their accounts altogether. Is this the case for all students? No, but this has been my experience with some clients. Cyberbullying is widely talked about for its detrimental effects on teens. It can lead to anxiety, depression, or even suicide. With a high percentage of teens using cell phones and the internet daily, chances also increase of being a victim of cyberbullying.”

BP: Do you think that society as a whole downplays the importance of mental health? Why or why not?

AH: “I think the idea of the importance of mental health is improving with each decade and is being given increased attention, unfortunately, with acts of violence being shown through the media in our country. I don’t think society necessarily downplays the importance of it, I’m not sure if society knows what to do with it at times.”

BP: Is there anything else my readers need to know?

AH: “Anxiety and depression are among the most common mental health disorders in the United States and both are treatable. Feeling anxious or sad are normal emotions and a normal part of life. When these emotions linger, worsen, and/or reduce one’s satisfaction of life, that is when they become abnormal, and additional support may be needed. Learning how to recognize and cope with these emotions can significantly impact one’s quality and satisfaction with life. I never want your readers to feel reluctant to ask someone for help if their normal emotions become abnormal. Help is always available. Always.”

School affects students’ mental health and stability

By Annalise Bassett

I stand in the lunch line, waiting to get to the front to quietly tell the cafeteria employee what I would like to eat. I am not with a friend and feel awkward standing in line alone. My anxiety says everyone is looking at me, judging me for how I stand in the line and what I am doing. Because of this, I pull my phone out as a safety net and I scroll through the news to distract myself from thinking about the other kids in line.

On top of my social anxiety, I am stressed out about a test later that day and about my grades in general. School strongly aids in making me and so many others anxious and depressed, but society does not seem to accept this. Society claims that the only reason some of us are anxious and depressed is cell phones and social media.

Most Google searches on the topic come back with results such as “Teens+Social Media=Depression,” which can make some teenagers feel overlooked by society. All teenagers can agree that school is stressful and that it is definitely a cause of teen anxiety and depression, but some people do not seem to accept this.

Some have written books on today’s teenagers and their social media usage being linked to depression and anxiety. IGen, a book by Jean Twenge, is about our generation being the first to grow up completely surrounded by technology, and how that correlates strongly with our mental illnesses. Twenge also wrote an online column in the Washington Post saying that teen anxiety and depression rates are not related to school, as her research team “found that the time teens spent on homework barely budged between 2010 and 2015, effectively ruling out academic pressure as a cause.”

Do adults not understand that homework is not the only part of school? There are so many other factors to school that make it academically pressuring. School creates pressure to get good grades, join clubs and extracurriculars, keep up with homework, and compete for the best GPA. On top of all of this, we have friendships to maintain, bodies to keep healthy, and families to spend time with. There are hardly enough hours in the day for everything we need to do on top of school.

School also creates social troubles, such as popularity and cliques. Especially in high school, it can feel like everyone is looking at and judging you for anything and everything. Teenagers hold grudges over arguments and are downright mean to each other, sometimes for no reason. Kids make fun of each other in the halls and whisper things behind each others’ backs.

Adults do not seem to understand that school has gotten much more stressful since “their day.” We have a lot more competition to get into college and to earn scholarship money. College is much more expensive than it was 20 years ago, and student debt levels are extremely high. Schools are now also pushing for students to look at college early, so underclassmen and even eighth graders are dealing with this pressure of thinking about college and student debt at young ages. On top of that, we are being pressured into choosing a career path before we even enter high school, when we often do not often know what we even want to do.

Obviously, due to all of this, teen depression and anxiety is on the rise. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 3.1 million adolescents aged 12 through 17 suffered from at least one depressive episode in 2016–which is 12.8 percent of the adolescent population. Approximately 60 percent of those kids did not receive treatment for their depression at all. According to a 2017 article by the Child Mind Institute, 31.9 percent of all adolescents will meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder by the time they are 18.

These are record numbers, and they are only going to go up from here. School is constantly becoming more stressful, from standardized testing starting as early as elementary school to pressure to be in the hardest classes possible. We deal with so much, and it is just overlooked.

While I agree that social media aids in teenagers developing mental illnesses, it is not completely the culprit. Obviously, social media is a platform for cyberbullying to occur, which can make teens feel bad about themselves. However, I do not have any social media accounts, nor do I want them. Several of my friends, who also deal with anxiety and depression, do not have social media accounts either. So how did we develop anxiety and depression? I will not claim that social media is not a cause of mental illness, but it is not okay to claim it is the only cause.

We have so much to deal with during our teenage years, from drama to academic pressure to clubs and extracurriculars. Society has to accept that school is a very real cause of anxiety and depression, and not just shove the cell phone excuse in our faces.

Having our mental illnesses ignored makes us feel like mental health isn’t important. Another issue is that, personally, I feel much more inclined to stay home from school when I am sick than when I am dealing with mental issues. School feels too important to miss for feeling anxious or depressed, and once I arrive at school for the day, there is no way for me to leave just because of anxiety. Just needing to get away from the place that makes me feel terrible is not a good enough reason for school. So I push through the day as much as I can, promising myself a nap when I get home to make myself feel better.

New Albany win shows Sturgeon’s coaching talent

Photo by Grace Allen

Story by J.D. McKay

Last Friday, our boys’ basketball team beat New Albany 44-37. It was the first time FC beat the Bulldogs at New Albany since 1998 and ended their 41-game home streak. It was also the third most exciting basketball game I have ever been to. The only two games more exciting were against New Albany but had a future NBA player playing. After going to five New Albany games, I realized several things.

Hiring Todd Sturgeon to be FC’s basketball coach in 2014 was a great decision. He took a team that had only had six winning seasons since the mid-90s and made them a serious sectional contender almost immediately. If New Albany had not had Romeo Langford last season, he would probably already have his first sectional championship at FC as well as FC’s first basketball sectional championship since 1989. FC is going to be the favorite this year in sectionals and if he wins the Hoosier Hills Conference for the second straight year he may become the best coach in the Hoosier Hills Conference.

When Sturgeon became head coach and started winning, our students took notice. Now, the Kilt Krew is almost always full during basketball games. But not only has the student section been full, the rest of the gym has been filling up since the 2015 season. Any FC basketball game now has some excitement surrounding it.

The last thing I noticed was the general interest in the New Albany game. Before FC beat New Albany at home last year, it had been 20 years since FC beat New Albany. The gym typically was not full and if it was it was not because of the FC students and fans. On Friday, there were 400 students in FC’s student sectional for a road game. Plus, the rest of the gym was packed. There was a buzz in the air at the game, as if expecting something crazy to happen. The buzz made the game exciting and one of the best basketball games I have ever been to.

After FC beat New Albany, New Albany head coach Jim Shannon told the Courier Journal, “It’s their Super Bowl because they never beat us. They are celebrating like they won it all and I don’t blame them. They don’t win very often. Check the history, and when they do they’re pretty excited.”

FC 2-1 in the last three games against New Albany.

See you in March, Mr. Shannon.

Floyd Central plays New Albany on the road tonight

Photo by Grace Allen

Story by J.D. McKay

This Friday, fifth-ranked FC is playing twelfth-ranked New Albany in what may be the biggest game of the season. However, for the first time in a long time, FC is not the underdog, and NA does not have Romeo Langford.

The Highlanders will need to do three things Friday to beat the Bulldogs for the second straight time in the regular season.

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Senior Logan Libs grabs a rebound over several Clarksville player in the game on Nov. 27. FC defeated Clarksville 69-28. Photo by Grace Allen.

 

The first key is making sure FC’s leading scorers, senior Cobie Barnes and sophomore Jake Heidbreder, score points. The last few years when New Albany has beat FC in the close games and the not-so-close game, they have shut down our leading scorers. Last season, Luke Gohmann, who is now at Marian University, scored 17 points in the regular season victory but only two points in the sectional championship loss, and Barnes scored 14 points in the win but only one in the loss.

The next key is having fewer than 10 turnovers. Almost any time you have fewer turnovers than the other team you will win, so winning the turnover battle should result in a win.

The third key is how well the Highlander’s third leading scorer plays.

“Our third scorer has changed from game to game,” said head coach Todd Sturgeon. “Harrison Eades (senior)  came off the bench and scored 14 points in the first game. Levi Siewert (senior) had 12 points at Lawrence North. Logan Libs (senior) had 14 points off the bench against Clarksville. Cam (Sturgeon, senior) had 12 at Castle.”

Sturgeon said he could see senior Nick Winchell having his breakout game this week and being the third leading scorer.

Bottom Line- This FC team might be better than last year’s team and New Albany is weaker after losing Mr. Basketball Langford. I expect FC will win, but the game could be very close because of New Albany’s home court advantage. However, if Barnes, who has been averaging a double double, 25 points and 10 rebounds, continues his dominant play, I do not think any amount of home court advantage will change the outcome. Final Score: 58-49 Highlanders

Expected Starting Five

Floyd Central New Albany
Nick Winchell- Guard Landon Sprigler- Guard
Levi Siewert- Guard Chris Johnson- Guard
Jake Heidbreder- Forward Derrick Stephenson- Guard
Cam Sturgeon- Forward Julian Hunter- Forward
Cobie Barnes- Forward Trey Hourigan- Forward