Mental Health and the Transition to High School

If I could go back in time and give my younger self some advice, I’d definitely have something to say about my transition to high school. The first few months of high school were difficult. Throughout the first quarter, I grew more and more anxious. I often lay awake for many nights after taking a test, wondering if I did well enough on it. I was too embarrassed to ask my teachers for help in the subjects I struggled in. I was afraid that one day, people would find out that I wasn’t nearly as smart and put together as I had led them to believe. 

Sound familiar? Based on the testimonies I hear from my friends, this experience is not at all uncommon. Since I can’t actually go back in time to talk to my younger self, I’m hoping you, reader, might be able to benefit from this little compilation of advice instead.

1. Try to find a good school-life balance

High School can often get busy and overwhelming. Contrary to the advice you may get from around you, sometimes it’s actually better to stop studying and go do something you love. If you feel burned out, you’re probably not doing your best work anyway, and taking a break will not only make you feel more refreshed, but it will also improve your performance. According to Psychology Today, breaks can help you recover your motivation, increase your creativity, and even boost your memory. So do the things you want to do as well as the things you have to do! 

2. Get started on assignments and projects as soon as you can.  

This way, if you get an unexpected influx of assignments close to the due date of another assignment, you won’t have as stressful a time trying to finish. If you’re worrying that something you produce won’t be good enough, this is what I’ve learned from my years as a creative writer: You don’t ever judge your first draft.  Whenever you’re starting something, whether it’s homework, a project, or studying for a test, silence the little critical voice. Silence it. Once you’ve started, you can always improve on what you have, but you do have to start first. 

If you’re struggling to find the time for it, perhaps you could try moving certain activities in your schedule around, or maybe dropping a few activities. Instead of stretching yourself too thin, dedicate yourself to a few things you really enjoy. This will help you do well in both your school and extracurriculars.

3. Talk to someone if you’re struggling

A little bit of struggling in High School probably can’t be avoided. That said, if the struggle is interfering significantly with your life, there are people you can talk to. If your issues are related to academics, you can talk to classmates, your teacher, or a tutor for help. If it’s a personal matter, you can talk to the person you’re most comfortable sharing with, whether that’s a parent, family member, or friend. In certain cases, talking to a professional therapist could also help. 

4. Remember that your performance in school doesn’t determine who you are or who you can become! 

Seriously, you are so much more than an academic transcript or a set of grades. You are an awesome person with many unique talents! Many famous and insanely talented people didn’t enjoy school, but went on to make their mark on the world. Did you know Albert Einstein hated school? He was such a poor student that his teacher called him profoundly stupid, and we all know how much he went on to contribute to the field of physics. As Einstein said, “Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid.” If school is ever tough for you, remember that school only tests a specific set of skills. It can never define you as a person – only you can do that. 

Have hope. High School can be a difficult time, but always remember that there’s more to life than school. You’ve got this!  


Foster, Tom. “20 Famous People That Failed at School.” The Educator Blog,, 28 Nov. 2016,

Selig, Meg. “How Do Work Breaks Help Your Brain? 5 Surprising Answers.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 18 Apr. 2017,

Editor’s note: It must be overwhelming and nervous to transition to high school. If you want to know more about how to deal with academic stress, you can check this page out too!