Why mental health education is necessary

Evalyne Simpson, Reporter

Mental illness is an issue that so many young people struggle with, but no one really wants to talk about it. The CDC reports that less than 50% of teenagaers who have a mental illness receive treatment for their condition . Mental illness in teenagers is more common than you would think and 1 in 5 teens suffer from one or more mental disorders. (“Important Teen Mental Health Statistics For Parents”, 2018). It is a huge problem, but the stigma around mental health often stops it from being solved. I think that teaching about mental health in schools and providing students with resources could help eliminate the problem.

During the week, students spend a majority of their time in school. It’s the one place that teenagers go solely to learn. So, why not use school as an opportunity to teach teenagers about mental health? In 2018, New York became the first state to require mental health to be taught in schools. Since then, many more states have followed in its footsteps. A number of states have adopted Student Mental Health Programs (SMH), which are designed to integrate mental health into curriculum and offer services to all grade levels. The programs also focus on forming collaborative relationships between the school and families (Barile). The SMH program is beneficial because it spreads awareness, while also providing students with helpful programs. Integrating mental health into the curriculum has proven successful for many states and I hope to see it integrated into schools across the country in the future. 

Teaching students about mental health and providing them with resources will help to eliminate the mental health problem in America. Teens face hard hitting issues like large amounts of stress, bullying, substance abuse, and family problems (“School-Based Mental Health Services: Improving Student Learning and Well-Being”, 2016). But, these issues aren’t always taken as seriously as they should be. As I previously explained, school is the ideal place to address these issues. Most schools have trained mental health professionals that are willing to help students. Students who are struggling should be encouraged to meet with these people. Recognizing and addressing mental health problems will allow teenagers to get the assistance that they need. 

Others would argue that mental health programs invade student’s privacy. Parent’s in Florida were asked to reveal brief information about their child’s mental health before registering for school and some of them were not happy about it. Some parents were worried that knowledge of their child’s mental health issues could be used against them and will follow them throughout their academic career (Ochoa).But, I strongly believe that the only way to solve the mental health problem in America is to erase the stigma surrounding it. There is no way we can solve the problem if we’re afraid to admit that there is one (Greenstein).  Notifying the school about their children’s  mental health issues will actually benefit them academically and emotionally. 

Addressing the mental health problem in America should be a top priority. We should try to address mental health issues that plague people of all ages, but teenagers are especially vulnerable. Most mental illnesses come about during the teenage years and will affect them for the rest of their life. Although not everybody is not a teacher or a mental health professional, we can all help to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness. Having a mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, and neither is talking about it. I hope to see our country become more accepting of mental illness and I believe that educating teens and providing them with resources is a big part of that.