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