The Oracle recently polled 380 MVHS students about disorders. The results were somewhat surprising and unsettling, but helped me gain insight into possible causes for the prevalence of various disorders.
The poll found that 23% of MVHS students had self-harmed.This means that in an average class at MVHS, 9 students have self-harmed. 17% of college students self-harm, according to a 2006 study by researchers at Princeton and Cornell and overall 12-23% of adolescents self-harm, according to a 2012 study published in the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health journal. Some known causes of self harm include stress, emotional emptiness, and depression. The percentage of MVHS students who self-harm is on the higher end in comparison with nationwide statistics, which could mean that stress and depression are more common at MVHS.
2) Eating Disorders:
The poll found that 9% of MVHS students have or have had an eating disorder, while nationally 11% of high school students have been diagnosed, according to a 10 year study done by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. While the national percentage is higher than MVHS’s average, both are still high. In an average class at MVHS, 3 – 4 students have suffered through an eating disorder. 90% of those who get eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, meaning that students need to start getting educated much earlier and more in depth about eating disorders to prevent them.
The poll asked students what they thought the causes of eating disorders were. While some students seemed to understand the causes, many were unsure or wrong. In addition, many of the students who had suffered through an eating disorder did not seem to know all the possible things that could have contributed to their disorders and were self degrading. Possible causes of eating disorders include low self-esteem, depression, loneliness, troubled personal relationships, difficulty expressing emotion, a history of teasing and abuse, and cultural pressures and norms. Current research shows that there are also genetic contributions to eating disorders and they may be caused by imbalances of certain chemicals in the brain. Many students understand that society, media, bullying, and self-esteem contribute to eating disorders, but few know that it could be caused by difficulty expressing emotion and genetics. Some students said they did not know, but others wrote incorrect causes like diseases and mental disorders. This shows that students need to be more aware about the causes of eating disorders so they realize that the disorders are not their fault and that they should get help.