Throughout the years, teachers from Hamilton Southeastern School District have noticed a difference in the anxiety levels of their students. According to U.S. News, this rise in student stress, anxiety, and depression is traced back to an increased pressure to succeed, social anxiety, school shootings, a lack of self-confidence, and of course, social media.
Teaching students how to cope with their mind is more important now than ever. Here are 6 reasons mental health should be taught in schools.
Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for ages 10-24.
90% of those who commit suicide had an underlying mental illness. Without being taught about the reality of mental illness – how dark, scary, and alone it feels – kids won’t understand the impact that ‘just being kids’, whether that’s bullying, slut-shaming, or spreading rumors, can actually have. They won’t understand that our empathy, kindness, and care can have life or death consequences.
If we can help students understand their mental health, we can help prevent them from getting to the place where they make a permanent decision to end a temporary situation.
Many mental health conditions start during adolescence.
Half of individuals living with a mental illness experience onset by the age of 14. This number jumps to 75% by the age of 24. One in five youth live with a mental health condition including major depression, but less than half of these individuals receive needed services. Undiagnosed, untreated or inadequately treated mental health conditions can affect a student’s ability to learn, grow and develop.
Students learn about physical and nutritional health, but not about mental health.
Health isn’t just about what’s going on in the outside world. Physical education class is required to help teach children about the value of nutrition and exercise. We teach them all about staying fit and eating health. Health classes teach about diseases, safe sex, and nutrition. Financial education has even been added to the curriculum to teach about buying cars and budgeting.
In America, we have realized the importance of teaching our future generations about their physical health, nutritional health, and even financial health. Yet, we don’t teach them about their mental health. This gap in curriculum has a potentially huge impact on society for generations to come. Poor mental health, depression, and anxiety affect the way students behave, interact in their communities, and make connections with others.
There is an increased pressure in society, and more freedom to choose.
We aren’t saying life was easy 50 years ago, but there was a simplicity to it that today’s kids don’t get to benefit from. Life is much more confusing for young people growing up now.
Now, there’s an increased pressure to decide what you want to do in life, early in life. On top of that, there are a million different information sources that could overload even the most mature brain, let alone one still trying to process the world around them.
Although preparing students for their future is important, part of that is preparing them for handling that future. Students need to be taught stress management techniques, how to communicate their feelings, and ultimately they need to hear that it’s okay to fail.
Most of student’s stress and anxiety come from school and the individuals there.
Schools are where young people spend most of their day. It’s where friendships happen and where relationships form. It’s where teens find their self-worth – in popularity, in sports, in achievement. And it’s where mental health issues can become obvious – and exacerbated.
There’s a growing emphasis on schools providing mental health support. But in the majority of cases, this comes in the form of support only for children who directly ask for it. Mental health support should be available to every student – even the ones who don’t know they need it.
Who is Making an Effort?
Organizations like National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) understand that schools are stretched very thin. They support increased funding to train school faculty and staff on the early warning signs of mental health conditions and how to link students to services. Funding would also allow school-based mental health professionals to coordinate services and supports between schools and the community mental health system.
Why is Education About Mental Health Important?
Mental health is something that everyone will have to deal with at some point in their life. This might be getting help with mental illness, helping someone else, or dealing with stressful moments and challenges. Schools need to be portraying mental health as equally important and crucial as physical health (because it is!) That starts with making mental health education a required part of education across all schools.
The best way kids are going to learn to understand mental health is to educate them. We hope parents are doing so inside the home, and we believe it’s time to start outside the home, too.
Drug-Free Treatment for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
At Brain Forest Centers, we use what’s called neurofeedback to help rewire your brain back to a balanced, neutral position. Neurofeedback can help anxious or depressed brains return to their healthy, balanced state. Our treatments are pain-free, non-invasive, and have been proven time and time again to work.