Mental health is no joke and is becoming a very common problem for struggling teens. One website states that, “Suicide is the third leading cause of death in students aged 10–24, with 90 percent of those dying by suicide having an underlying mental illness” (Jakubanis and LeVine). Other websites and statistics agree, stating things like, “Up to one in five kids living in the U.S. shows signs or symptoms of a mental health disorder in a given year” (Anderson and Cardoza). Mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression affect many teens, many who are students and it’s clear that they are suffering. It’s not a secluded incident. It’s here, right now, happening in front of our eyes. This could be due to many different factors, some even related to school. Whether it’s an overwhelming schedule, insane amounts of homework and projects, peer pressure, or other stressors, school can be part of the problem.

And right now, it’s not only a matter of stating the facts, but understanding that these statistics are real, and getting worse. Those who have ever been diagnosed with anxiety and depression between the ages 6 through 17 have increased from 5.4% in 2003 to 8.4% in 2011-2012 (Bitsko et al.) Not only are there a lot of students who have these mental illnesses, the number is increasing. It’s important to be informed and now more than ever, it may be time to take another step before it gets out of hand.

Some schools are actively making an effort to help students’ mental health. Whether it’s a short talk in a class, or something as simple as posters on the wall, schools are making an effort to help students feel more comfortable, but sometimes, it’s not enough. It can be hard to admit to yourself or another person that something may be wrong. It’s even harder to open up and talk about it. And not only that, but there aren’t necessarily enough professionals to go around either. As said in one article, there are about 250 students to every social worker, and closer to 500 students for each counselor (Anderson and Cardoza). That’s a big responsibility for any one person to hold. But there may be another solution that doesn’t include a trained professional.

Oregon has recently passed a law allowing students to take a maximum of 5 mental health days. As of June 2019, mental health is now considered a valid reason for an excused absence, like appointments or being sick. With this new law, students will be able to take a day to destress and come to a place where they’ll be in a better state of mind. Mental health is a big problem to tackle, and it won’t be cured within one day, but every little bit helps. This, added up together with other solutions could really help students come to terms with mental health, and start them on the path to overcome it.

I leave you with these questions, and please, feel free to respond (you don’t necessarily have to answer the questions). I would really like to know how other feel about mental health.

  1. What is your point of view on mental health?
  2. What do you think about the law passed in Oregon? Is it a good thing, or not?
  3. What are some things you find stressful about school?

Works Cited:

Anderson, Meg, and Kavitha Cardoza. “Mental Health In Schools: A Hidden Crisis Affecting Millions Of Students.” NPR, NPR, 31 Aug. 2016, www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/08/31/464727159/mental-health-in-schools-a-hidden-crisis-affecting-millions-of-students.

Bitsko, Rebecca H. “Epidemiology and Impact of Health Care Provider–Diagnosed Anxiety and Depression Among US Children. ” Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics, June 2018, journals.lww.com/jrnldbp/Citation/2018/06000/Epidemiology_and_Impact_of_Health_Care.6.aspx.

Jakubanis, Beth, and Blake LeVine. “Promoting Student Mental Health: Resources & Support.” AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org, AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org, 17 Apr. 2019, www.accreditedschoolsonline.org/resources/student-mental-health-resources/.

Photo Credit: Mental Health Conditions by amenclinics_photos on 2014-07-07 14:52:19

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CC BY-SA 4.0 Mental Health in Schools by Kira is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

15 Comments
  1. Madelyn 3 days ago

    Hi Kira, I really enjoyed your article. This is an issue that is becoming more common, especially with our generation. I think it is an issue we need to raise awareness about. Many people understand the struggle but are unwilling to discuss. I think you did a great job and are helping people open up with conversation. I think this article may help you in understanding the different illnesses and diseases teens may have. http://teenmentalhealth.org/learn/mental-disorders/

  2. Lola 5 days ago

    Hi Kira,

    Thank you for opening up this discussion, I think mental health is huge issue among young adults right now. More than ever we are pressured by education and other responsibilities. I think Oregon is beginning something that is the future. We all know that it is a big issue but it seems like this is the first thing being done about it.

    I read a page which I linked below that has a lot of statistics about the sheer amount of diagnosed mental conditions among different age grounds. It is really astounding how little schools are acting after looking at these numbers.

    Thank you, Lola

    https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/data.html#ref

  3. Hannah 6 days ago

    Kira,
    This is an excellent and well written post. Mental health has become apart of many peoples lives and is something that needs to be addressed. I found it shocking when you talked about those who have been diagnosed with anxiety and depression have increased in numbers from 5.4% in 2003 to 8.4% in recent years, and I’m sure the number will continue to rise. Many of my fellow students suffer from anxiety and depression, all from varying factors. Schools do put lots of pressures on students so it might be interesting to research the most common causes of poor mental health in the United States. I agree with the law that was passed in Oregon; I know myself and other students take mental health days just the same as we would when we are sick. I think it’s important for students, especially in todays competitive world, to decompress and take a break from the stressors of the world. I think it’s important to talk about mental health with family and trusted adults. The world needs to break the stigma around mental health, because it is normal. If you want to find more about that stigma, I would recommend reading this article https://www.verywellmind.com/mental-illness-and-stigma-2337677. I really enjoyed your post and hope to see more of your work soon! Great job.

  4. Alysa 6 days ago

    Hello,
    I think you would enjoy reading this article.https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Public-Policy/Mental-Health-in-Schools
    I completely agree that schools need to work on this because it is a huge deal. I think technology has a lot to do with this. People become alone and feel depressed. We need to find ways to help students so the levels of suicide come down. Children are stressed with helping up with everything and it is overwhelming.

  5. Sam 1 week ago

    I completely agree that mental health is one of the biggest problems facing youth in schools. I like the statements you made and how you backed them up with statistics and facts.

  6. Emma 1 week ago

    Wow Kira great article. I love Oregon’s idea. I’m sure it was taken well by students and it sounds like teacher and parents must support it as well. It is great to hear that mental illnesses are increasingly addresses as if it were a broken bone because depression is a verified illness that effects millions. I also was surprised to hear the classes are taking a few minutes of class time to discusses their own mental health. At my school was hang lots of posters urging students to get help if need be. We have even implemented a minute of mindfulness each morning during class. Thank you for writing on this issue.

  7. Emily 1 week ago

    You make many good points in this post. I think the Oregon bill is a very good idea; it would help many people I know. I think it good you also covered possible solutions, because many people only discuss the issue but not any solutions. You might find this article helpful if you want to write more on this topic: https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/mental-health/school-psychology-and-mental-health/school-based-mental-health-services .

  8. Madi 3 weeks ago

    Hi Kira,
    I really enjoyed your article because it is a very relevant and highly discussed topic in today’s society. With so many people suffering with mental illness, I agree that the topic needs to be addressed more as well as stay in today’s conversation. You gave many good points and stated facts that further develop your overall article. I found another source that relates to your topic: https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/mental-health/school-psychology-and-mental-health/school-based-mental-health-services
    Sincerely,
    Madi

  9. Cassie 3 weeks ago

    Hi Kira,
    Your essay you wrote about mental health in schools really resonated with me. You brought up great points such as how we need to realize that this isn’t just a fact but a necessary thing that needs to be changed and dealt with immediately so kids are able to get the proper education without feeling like everything is going wrong. Here’s an article I found related to this topic http://neatoday.org/2018/09/13/mental-health-in-schools/

  10. Sophie 3 weeks ago

    Hello Kira,
    Your article was very well put. Sometimes it is very difficult for people to come out and talk about this stuff and I think your article could make a lot of people take a second and think. Mental health has become such a huge issue in teens and a lot of people just look right past it. We do need to take this seriously and look for it in other people and in ourselves and get help if needed. I think that what Oregon is doing is a step in the right direction, but we still need to do more. I am very glad I got the chance to read your writing.
    Sincerely,
    Sophie

  11. Riley 3 weeks ago

    Hey Kira,

    This was a very well written article; I do believe that schools have been beginning to do more than they used to in regards to mental illness. However, there is more they could do. Wheather is something as simple as just having a monthly check-in with students or even publicizing what resources the school has to assist students with their mental issues. Do you believe that bringing these resources into the light would be beneficial? Do you believe more states should pass this law?

    • Author
      Kira 3 weeks ago

      Hello Riley,

      Thank you for your comment! I do think that showing students what resources are available would be helpful. This way, they would have a better idea, if nothing else, of what they can do when they’re ready to talk. I don’t think it will necessarily prompt a lot of students to suddenly get help just because they know, but at least they would have the information.

      As for your second question, I do think that it would be good to pass the Oregon law in other states. Personally, I have been extremely stressed and anxious due to homework and projects, and having the opportunity to take a day to myself to recuperate and recharge my batteries would not only help my health, but also my productivity. I know I can’t say the same for other people, but again, having the option would be very beneficial.

      -Kira

  12. Colin Q 3 weeks ago

    Hello Kira,
    This article is very well written. It is very important to keep the conversation on mental health going, because we need to talk about it or else nothing will change. I personally know quite a few people who need mental health days, so it is nice to know that state governments are starting to notice the problem and do something about it. Do you personally believe that mental health days are important to helping students with mental health problems? I believe that mental health days will benefit students and grades as well. People often underestimate the stress of being a high school student, with college, friends, family, and grades. You gave me a new perspective when you stated that there are more people to a school counselor than to every social worker, which kind of amazed me. Overall, very well written article with some interesting ideas and some good statistics involved as well.

  13. Natalee 3 weeks ago

    Hi Kira,
    This is a well-written article, and what you said about Oregon passing a law that lets students take a maximum of 5 mental health days stood out to me. I really like how you included this within your article, it left me (and likely other readers) with higher hopes concerning mental health in schools. I’ve also thought about school social workers myself, wondering how they’re able to work with over a hundred students at a time and not get lost in the large amounts of data. You also said “Those who have ever been diagnosed with anxiety and depression between the ages 6 through 17 have increased from 5.4% in 2003 to 8.4% in 2011-2012”, and this was a shocking new perspective for me. I didn’t know children as young as 6 years old could be diagnosed with the emotionally devastating disorder that is Depression. It really brings to light how serious this issue is if children barely out of 1st grade are being affected by this mental illness. Overall, your article was a very interesting read and helped me understand how serious and widespread this problem is.

  14. Aria 3 weeks ago

    Hello Kira,
    Your article was very well written, especially of a current and relevant issue still occurring today. Mental health is a serious thing and if we don’t address it, then who will? It’s a very hard topic to open up about as it’s a struggle that we deal it with in daily life between school, keeping up with our grades, making time to hang out with family and friends, managing a paid job, and a number of extracurricular activities. Mental health days can be a good thing as the student will return to school mentally stronger and healthier. But, I also feel that those who don’t have mental health issues may take advantage of it just to skip school because they don’t feel like going. Here is an article I found regarding more information about your topic: https://www.verywellmind.com/when-and-how-to-take-a-mental-health-day-3144754

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