Why We Need More Mental Health Education in Schools | Teen Ink

Why We Need More Mental Health Education in Schools

September 7, 2019
By khaylawilliamsmh BRONZE, Fishers, Indiana
khaylawilliamsmh BRONZE, Fishers, Indiana
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.”
― C.S. Lewis

Mental health has barely ever been discussed in my schools. As teens, we tend to get hurt a lot while playing sports. Whether it be a sprained ankle or a broken arm, casts and crutches are a common occurrence throughout the school. No matter the injury, we go to the doctor and make attempts to get it fixed so that we can continue playing our sport and live our daily lives. Why is it that we don't see our mental health in that same light? There are tests, exams, extracurriculars, volunteer work, future occupation planning, and SATs that we must worry about in a general perspective. That's on top of trying to create and maintain friendships and relationships with others, as well as making sure we have time to do the things we love to do.

We learn about substance abuse, drinking, and how it's bad for us. We learned about a few broad ways to improve and maintain our emotional/mental health. They talk about bullying and how we need to end it, and they say how it can cause depression. We scratched the surface of self-esteem and body image. But mental health is so much more than that. In mental health, there are mental illnesses. Except we don't talk about them.... ever.

All the information I have on mental illnesses and ways to improve my mental health have come from my research. Essentially, there wouldn't be anything wrong with that; however, we are in school about 6-7 hours a day. Being that said, I strongly believe that mental health discussions need to happen inside the classroom. Up until about 5th grade, this was my thinking: depression is an extreme word for sadness, anxiety is just nervousness, social anxiety is shyness, and OCD was just perfectionism. These were the only mental illnesses I knew of and my interpretations of them were quite inaccurate. These are broad terms that don't encompass all the feelings, emotions, and experiences that truly come along with those mental illnesses.

Not only that but it's important to know that there is such a wide range of mental illnesses that people suffer from. In the ages of 13-18, 1 out of 5 has a serious mental illness. With suicide being the 3rd leading cause of death in youth, 90% of those who died by suicide had a mental illness. Majority of the time, these mental illnesses go unseen and therefore untreated. These topics are stigmatized to such an extent in my age demographic that I don't believe people process that it is an issue. Majority of the time mental illnesses are mentioned as derogatory terms and used as adjectives in circumstances people don't like. Teens are commonly saying phrases such as: "I'm so OCD because I like things to be neat", "She's mental", "My phone died so now I'm depressed".

Those phrases are unacceptable and as a society, we should be working on destigmatizing mental illness. That starts in the schools. Since schools are a learning institution, it's the ideal place to start educating ourselves about mental illnesses and specific ways to better our mental health rather than generalized ideas that everyone can do. If we start learning how to take care of our mental health like our physical health in kindergarten, we can utilize those skills as we grow older. It is possible to prevent the development of mental illness earlier on with the right coping mechanisms. Everyone will struggle with their mental health even if they don't have a mental illness.


However, it important to keep in mind that having a mental illness doesn't make you inferior, or less than. It's time to start educating each other and make the world a healthier place.

The author's comments:

I hope that this article will shed some light on the issue of mental illness in 21st-century teens. I also hope that people will be inspired to make a change, little or big.

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