Opinion: Education and Mental Health
By Isabella McCormack
Imagine being at the lowest point in your life and also having to go to school every day and maintain your grades. Students all around the world deal with that every day. And oftentimes the staff at schools can’t even tell. This is why I think teachers, administrators, and even students should be taught about mental health. Now, I know many schools do briefly talk about mental health. However, I think everybody should get an in-depth education on mental health, more than just a short lesson about depression. There is so much more to mental health than just depression. People should be taught about what mental health is, the different types of mental health disorders, and how to identify and help struggling students.
An estimated 49.5% of adolescents have had a mental health disorder at some point in their life. As somebody who has struggled with my own mental health for years, I understand how challenging it can be to manage school and your own mental wellbeing at the same time, with no help. I’m sure you would want all students to thrive in an academic setting. However, for struggling students, it is often difficult to maintain their grades and attendance.
I grew up as a straight-A student. School was my strong suit. I was always at the top of my class. But I noticed as my mental health started to decrease, my grades and attendance did with it. Students with mental health disorders often miss school because of it, causing them to fall behind, and a lot of the time teachers get angry at students for this. They presume these students are lazy and unmotivated. However, even if a student is “lazy and unmotivated” it is often linked to depression and anxiety.
If teachers were able to identify the signs of mental illness in students, more students would be able to get the help they need. It may be hard for many students to speak up for themselves. Many students may feel that it is not important, or simply just be too scared to tell anyone. Ignoring mental health can often lead to much worse things. By teachers being able to see the early symptoms of mental health struggles they could save people. Even just a few would be a great accomplishment.
Students should also be taught about mental health. More than just the basic lesson everyone gets in health class about depression. There is so much more to mental health than depression. Students should be taught how to tell signs in their friends, what to do if they know their friend is having a hard time, where they can reach out to get help for themselves and even how to know when to reach out. Empathy can’t be taught, but I think giving students long lessons can help them understand. It will be easier for them to show empathy to their peers, because they can finally try to understand what it is like.
It can be hard to understand people who struggle with mental illness, as somebody who doesn’t experience it. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Even if giving in depth lessons about mental health could help just one person it would be worth it. The students at this school are more important than their grades and the ones who struggle need to have someone to notice the problem. They need somebody who sees them. Staff at the school knowing how to tell the signs is incredibly important and could help many people.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and consider my solution to this rapidly increasing problem .