Local Student's View / Schools and Mental Health: Students need tools to cope, heal, help others
From the column: "Teenagers spend nine months of the year at their high school, making it a big part of their lives. Having more mental health education in high schools can help combat the mental health crisis we are now seeing."
Mental health needs to be addressed as an essential factor in many lives today, especially among teens. Unfortunately, there is a lack of mental health education in schools, detrimental to teens and their ability to live. Implementing mental health education in high schools would help end the crisis many teens face and immensely improve all aspects of their lives.
If schools don’t educate students about mental health, who will?
Childhood trauma, stress, drug use, and social media play significant roles in the mental health of teens. The trauma and stress one may face in their childhood can and most likely will affect levels in their oxytocin system. Any changes in the oxytocin system can lead to behavioral issues, which then can cause anxiety and depression.
Trauma and stress are also linked to drug use. Adolescent drug use contributes to depression and anxiety disorders and can even create such problems later in life.
Social media can normalize mental health disorders through peer pressure and harmful content. The majority of peer pressures and harmful content teenagers face is at school. Since anxiety and depression affect how students act and perform at school, they create an obstacle the schools and teachers then have to face.
More mental health education in our schools will not solve all childhood trauma and stress, social media-induced problems, or drug use. However, it would help students become more knowledgeable on the effects so they can cope, heal, and help others.
When contributors to mental health problems overlap, it can worsen cases or trigger new ones. Consequences can include extreme sadness, the loss of motivation, and difficulty functioning regularly. Teenagers also may feel overwhelmed, which can cause relationships and their school performances to be impacted, usually negatively. When school performance is affected, teachers don’t know what to do because they aren’t equipped with the right resources. Suppose schools have a national standard to follow with mental health as a part of their curriculum. In that case, we could stop the crisis at the core and educate everyone.
Teenagers spend nine months of the year at their high school, making it a big part of their lives. Having more mental health education in high schools can help combat the mental health crisis we are now seeing and even create good habits that can carry into adult years. Additional benefits of adding a curriculum on mental health is that it would help to end the stigma. Teenagers would have people they could talk to, and they could feel more comfortable getting the help they need.
More than anything, stepped-up mental health education in our schools would improve students’ lives, school performances, and moods.
Rylee Gilbertson is a senior at Hermantown High School. She wrote this originally for a college-level composition class.