Over 15 million kids, grades ninth to twelfth, attend high school in the United States. Every day these students go to school and deal with problems and challenges such as standing up to bullies, making friends, earning good grades, pleasing their parents, staying in relationships and many other hardships.
One struggle many students face, but many avoid, is mental health. Whether one has a mental illness or not, mental health pertains to everyone. This subject is not being talked about as much as it needs to be. One article pointed out that one in five children ages 13 to 18 live with a mental illness (“Mental Health Facts,” n.d., n.p.).
Most teenagers do not receive help with these illness’ which can lead to more intense disorders, and potentially suicide. These issues can cause so many struggles throughout a persons life if they do not recieve some sort of help. Students already struggle through so much, and school and districts should take that consideration. Schools should teach its students about mental health, and how to overcome the mental issues they deal with by incorporating a class into their curriculums.
Mental illness needs to be talked about more than it is. Students who deal with things such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, eating disorders, OCD, ADHD, and many others mental disorders can feel as if they are the only one struggling with one. Another article confirmed over 44 million Americans suffer from a mental illness (“The State of Mental Health in America,” 2015, n.p.).
The truth is that these students are not the only one; millions of others battle with these problems every day. Bruce Van Stone, a learning specialist at New Brunswick Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, notes “The stereotype [of someone mentally ill] is of a person who is out of control, with a “crazy” look in their eyes and is highly dangerous. That characterization is not only incorrect but also insulting” (n.d., n.p.). Van Stone emphasized that it is insulting to those who have a mental disorder (n.d., n.p.).
Many people have one, whether it is severe or not, and it should not be something society is afraid of. Society has a false idea of what mental illnesses are and how those who suffer from one act. If schools integrate mental health into their learning systems students can learn two things: if they have a mental illness they should not be ashamed, and if they don’t have one they should not be afraid of those who do.
Of course, adding mental health classes to schools would cost money due to more materials and hiring trained professionals to teach the students. However, the cost should not be the reason to deprive those who are struggling with the help they need. There are many companies, hospitals, foundations, and institutions for mental health who would be willing to donate money for this cause. Schools and its students can hold fundraisers as well, by telling the doners the money will help educate students on mental health awareness.
There are many fundraising ideas such as car washes, races, and auctions which students could do to help their school raise money. By spending money on a mental health class now, a large amount of money is being saved; money that would help pay for more mental illness help in the future. If it is taught now, fewer students will have to get help later.
About 45,000 Americans die each year from suicide. Suicide and having suicidal thoughts is one part of mental health affecting many families, schools and students around the world. High schoolers face many struggles every day like stated before, and as a result, many can develop depression, which can lead to suicide.
A journal on suicide prevention stated: “Suicide prevention experts have reiterated that health care professionals are in an optimal position to contribute to suicide prevention, if properly trained” (Graves et al., 2017, p. 760). Incorporating a class about mental health with teachers who are trained can help students know what to do when if they are or become suicidal. This can hopefully decrease the number of suicides and the number of people dealing with heartache from a friend or family member who has taken their life.
An article on teen mental health facts reported 90% of those who die from suicide have an underlying mental illness (“Mental Health Facts,” n.d., n.p.). This shows that mental illness is the cause of most suicides. With the rate of suicides today, society must utilize every opportunity they have to help prevent it, including an education system about mental health.
Some may argue mental health has never been a part of the schools’ curriculum, so why should it be added now? While it is true the class has never been a part of schools teaching requirements, it does not mean that the idea should be completely discarded. Mental health is just as important as any other subject taught in school, maybe even more important. Physical education in school teaches students to practice good physical health on how to keep their bodies healthy. English teaches students to practice writing and how to write an outstanding essay.
Math teaches students to practice equations and how to solve any problem. Science teaches students how momentum works and how to track wind speeds. Just as those subjects are being addressed in schools, mental health should be as well. Students can practice good mental health and how to keep their minds healthy. It may not currently be a part of the mandatory subjects being taught, but it is clearly just as crucial as the other subjects.
Numerous amounts of students do not have a mental disorder, but they may have friends or family who do. Students should not only be taught about mental health to know how to deal with these things, but to know how to help others who battle it.
Botelho, the author of a journal on mental health, observed “New research shows that while faculty and students may recognize signs of psychological distress in others on campus, many feel unprepared to approach and help those in need” (2017, n.p.). This shows many people are not sure what to do in the situation of a friend or acquaintance needing help.
He also confirmed 60% of students don’t feel prepared to approach those who are at-risk to discuss their struggles (Botelho, 2017, n.p.). With a class that teaches mental health, students could also be taught how to deal with and help someone who has a mental disorder. This could help students feel less weird and embarrassed about it. Mental health needs to be in schools curriculum to not only help those who have mental illness’ but to help others know how to help someone with mental illness.
Mental health should be taught in school starting from a young age. Doing so could help students understand what they have and how to deal with it instead of suffering through the pain or attempting suicide. Mental disorders are being misinterpreted by society, therefore teaching students about it would help them understand them more. With the increase of students who have even a minor mental illness, a class on mental illness can help them feel less scared of it.
Other students can learn how to help and comfort those who do have disorders. No matter the cost, most will benefit at some point in his or her lives from mental health education. A class on mental healthcare is a much-needed course for students today who have many daily struggles that add on to their mental issues. The pain one feels from suffering from a mental health disorder can only start to decrease once a mental health class is added to the curriculum.