Mental Health and Vaping

Bridget Lord

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Stress is increasing for high school students immensely as academic expectations and competition to get into higher education increases. Some students cannot deal with their stress and do not know where to turn for help. Some are scared to ask for help from guidance counselors, or uncomfortable coming to terms with how they’re feeling – so instead they turn to drugs. E-cigarettes were introduced as a way for smokers to quit cigarettes, but they were actually marketed to teens to get a new generation addicted to nicotine. While awareness surrounding the dangers of vaping has grown, many teens still do not understand the negative impacts of vaping and ignore warnings from health teachers in search of an escape.

Facts don’t lie: “People suffering from depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders are three times as likely to ‘vape’ regularly than those without a history of mental issues.” (Time Magazine) If students feel comfortable reaching out for help or receiving support before they consider vaping, they face a much lower risk of trying and becoming addicted to vaping. High school teachers, administration, and guidance counselors are having a difficult time navigating how products like Juul are used in schools.

Long term effects of e-cigarettes are still being studied, and it is very difficult to gauge how many students are using them because many students lie on surveys. If the WHS faculty understand how teens with mental health issues are disproportionately using e-cigarettes, they can create a plan to protect their student body from vaping.

“People with mental health conditions have largely been forgotten in the war on smoking.” – Sharon Cummins, Time. If Westborough High School wants to stop our student body’s vaping problem, they need to take a closer look at their students’ accessibility to support and work toward creating an environment where students feel comfortable asking for help.

The decline of our students’ mental health is fueling Westborough High School’s vaping problem, but our teachers, counselors, and administration can help. Our counselors can educate faculty on symptoms of mental illness and meet with students each year so they are more comfortable asking for emotional support. Most importantly, they can continue the efforts they are already making – training teachers in DBT (Dialectical behavior therapy), bringing in therapy dogs, discussing stress management around midterms and finals, and acknowledging the teachers that make a point to show their students they care.