Need for Mental Health Education, Services

by Jackelyn Theiur

As students get older and begin to take on more schoolwork, the time they have to focus on their health progressively decreases. The lack of availability to make plans, play sports and do things that keep them from losing their minds slowly becomes out of reach. Mental health is consistently acknowledged within schools and learning environments through counselor talks and the commemoration of Mental Health Awareness Week as well as Suicide Prevention Week, but schools must do more to aid their students regarding their mental health. 

Although being a mental health expert isn’t a requirement to becoming an education worker, the more that teachers and staff understand the mental health of younger people, the more they can do to help their students. Teachers that are informed on how to approach situations regarding students that struggle mentally are more equipped to guide students throughout difficult circumstances. Encouraging social interaction, providing brain breaks, reducing some class pressures and creating an overall positive environment in the classroom may help students feel more comfortable and therefore less anxious and stressed in a place where they’re meant to learn. Recognizing a student’s sudden drop in grades, reckless behavior, withdrawal from social interaction, and other signs of students’ struggling can make all the difference to a student’s life. 

Access to mental health education for students within schools will give them a better understanding of what they can do for themselves to remain healthy. For those who suffer with undiagnosed disorders and illnesses, learning the signs and symptoms of different mental health disorders can lead them to a quicker diagnosis, giving them the opportunity to seek the help they need before it becomes more critical. Mental health education is a crucial aspect to diagnosis of mental health disorders. Not only will students be able to keep themselves healthy, they will be able to notice the signs in their peers as well, benefiting the student body as a whole. Only 16% of all children receive any mental health services and of those receiving care, 70-80% receive that care in a school setting, according to the The Center for Health and Health Care in Schools.

Providing full-time psychologists can benefit students as they can support them at any given time. The school does have multiple counselors that are assigned to different groups of students, but it can be powerful to have therapists present to adhere fully to students’ mental health. Access to this help during the school day can truly benefit a student’s mental health as they have help available to them constantly.  As some students do seek the professional help they need outside of school, more chronic issues such as anxiety, depression and brain-based disorders require day-to-day attention. Students may benefit from daily support from a mental health professional, even if it isn’t medically necessary, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Schools must provide these services to their staff and students for their own well-being. Students facing challenges regarding their mental health can’t wait for change, they need it now.