Opinion

Column: Coping With Mental Health Awareness in Schools

BY STELLA BRYAN

Mental disorders are a common factor in regards to our well being, and generally depict our overall mood, thoughts, and behavior. Some of these disorders range from clinical depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and more. My first direct contact with someone with a mental disorder was my freshman year. As my parents went through their divorce, my mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia. It was strange to me, but as the days went by, I got used to it. Her symptoms were severe and it took a while to figure out what was wrong, but eventually, we got there. She’s improved a little, but remains a stranger to me. Had we realized what was going on sooner, we all would have gone through less pain and struggle. 

Catching an issue and resolving it as soon as possible is always ideal. Because mental disorders affect our mood, thoughts, and behavior, it tends to affect our school career . According to statistics, 37% of students with a mental health condition, age 14 and older, dropout of school. Since we are so young and our brain plasticity is at its peak, teens are very prone to mental illness. One half of all chronic mental illnesses begin by age 14 and 1.8 million teens experience severe depression. Just because my mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 40 doesn’t mean adolescents are immune to all mental health issues.  With suicide being the third leading cause of death in people ages 10-24, we need to spread awareness at our home away from home; school. 

Mental health awareness is a huge deal that deserves attention and to be taken more seriously. We need to give students better, more direct access to help. Students are considered to be more successful in school when they are mentally healthy, so why doesn’t school pay more attention to the issue? Up to 60% of students don’t get the help they need due to lack of accessibility to these necessary services. Like stated previously, school is our home away from home. It’s where we spend the majority of our time as we grow up, making it the ideal place for students to reach out and get access to the help they need. 

Making a change to our school’s current state regarding mental health is ideal. Implementing school psychologists,  social workers, and counselors that actually focus on mental health not just school related issues will not only give students someone to talk to about such serious topics, but will improve their learning experience and overall mood. However, the reality of it all is too harsh. Many teachers, social workers, psychologists (if even), counselors, and even nurses are responsible for hundreds of students a day, or generally have way too much on their plate to focus on those who genuinely need help. There needs to be another way to reach out to those students. 

Lack of education and resources is the main difficulty. The mental health awareness in schools is not only overlooked, but forgotten. The occasional educational video and survey is given, but overall it’s neglected completely. We need to prioritize these issues. Teachers and staff need to detect the signs as they begin and report them so students can get the help they deserve. The quicker and more effectively we help, the better. 

Categories: Opinion

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