It’s not just academics: Dougherty students boast outstanding mental health


Lauren Chen

Known as one of the most academically competitive high schools throughout the Bay Area, it’s an impressive feat that Dougherty Valley High School is also home to some of the least-stressed students in the country.

Disclaimer: This is a work of satire

It’s difficult being a high school student. Doctors have become increasingly alarmed by teenagers reporting symptoms of mental illness, and strategies to maintain one’s mental health are being spotlighted more than ever. Dougherty Valley students are no strangers to stress, lack of sleep, anxiety, and other negative factors. To show how they are combating these symptoms, Dougherty Valley students shared their go-to de-stressing methods.

Many students cited playing sports as a main hobby that helps them mentally recharge. Studies have shown that physical exertion spurs the creation of serotonin and other neurotransmitters that make the brain feel healthy.

“I love ice skating. When I’m on the rink I feel like I’m free,” said one athlete. “I wake up at 4:30 a.m. every morning and practice seven days a week, but I wouldn’t change a thing. Ice skating is my passion.”

Another Dougherty student said, “I’ve been playing competitive soccer at a state level since I was 2 years old. My teammates are my best friends and my games are the only things I look forward to in life.”

Unfortunately, our interview had to be conducted over Zoom because the soccer player was receiving treatment for a torn ACL and had casts on both of her arms.

Some Dougherty students have slightly more unique hobbies, such as one junior, who competes in an international quiz bowl. He is currently in the process of memorizing facts to help him beat his next competitor.

“After a long day of studying, it’s such a relief to…well, study more, I guess, but this is different. I promise it’s fun!” he insisted.

For better or worse, not all Dougherty students partake in physically or academically challenging hobbies.

“I know that some students here have super time-consuming extracurriculars, but I’m different than your average Dougherty kid,” said one student who loves boba and wears a pair of Nike Air Force 1 shoes every day. The student mentioned that they simply sit in bed and watch TV shows and movies for hours at a time to tune out the world around them.

“I don’t see how Netflix can be stressful. Binging shows helps me take my mind off of any factors that might be negatively affecting my mental health,” they said. “I’m currently watching ‘Criminal Minds.’ It’s such a comforting show because whenever I see the BAU analyzing suspects, it just makes me think, ‘Wow, at least my mental illness isn’t THAT bad.’”

Other favorites for relaxing, heart-warming series were “American Horror Story” and “Attack on Titan.” The preferred viewing time for students was “right before I go to sleep every night,” as one put it.

Students also cited video games as a great way to unwind after a long day of school, such as League of Legends. Known for its wholesome fanbase and “nostalgic middle school memories,” as one player said, the popular multiplayer game seems to attract a large audience.

“I’ve never had a bad experience during a game. It’s really become my safe space,” an anonymous female student said, adamantly denying that she was paid by Riot Games to make the statement.

Amidst the “epic highs and lows” of high school, Dougherty Valley students have still found ways to decrease stress and burnout from a challenging academic year. At this rate, the high school will undoubtedly rank high on the annual list of the 100 Best High Schools in America for Students’ Mental Health. This will be yet another accolade to keep up the school’s spotless academic reputation.