Why Mental Health Should Be Taught in School
Mental wellness and student achievement go hand in hand. A child’s mental health affects their social, emotional, and behavioral development. Since 1 in 6 U.S. youth ages 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year, it makes sense that mental health should be taught in school.
Aside from their own home, young people spend most of their time at school. This provides the perfect opportunity for students and educators to learn about mental health problems and mental disorders.
Identify Problems Early On
The balancing act of schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and pressures of the future take its toll, and student stress and anxiety levels show no signs of slowing down. An estimated 31.9% of adolescents have an anxiety disorder.
Lack of confidence, fear of failure, and social anxiety are a few of the issues that can arise when mental health is left unchecked. According to The National Institute of Mental Health, suicide is the second leading cause of death among people ages 10-34. The question becomes, how can we prevent these numbers?
One way to combat mental health is to understand the signs and symptoms. If students are taught about mental health in school, they will be able to identify issues with their peers and themselves, and educators will be better equipped to distinguish if a student is struggling. Additionally, identifying issues early on is key to successfully treating disorders and providing access to care an individual may need.
Decrease the Stigma
It may seem that conversations surrounding mental health are becoming more open, but the stigma remains. Not talking about mental health is what leads to shame around it.
What better way to combat mental health stigma than through young people? Creating an open environment to talk about mental health in school will help lead to thoughtful conversations surrounding students’ issues.
When teachers discuss mental health in a non-threatening manner, it gives students the confidence and terminology to start a dialogue. Students will feel empowered to reach out to a trusted family member, teacher, or friend when needed.
What Can Schools Do?
Mental health in school can start with teacher-led discussions in the classroom and implementing a plan for students who exhibit concerning signs/symptoms. Mental health in school can include helping to:
- Encourage students to talk about how they are feeling
- Teach coping skills to students
- Incorporate self-care practices throughout the day (like deep breathing exercises)
- Educate students on the signs and symptoms
- Promote physical well-being
- Have a referral system in place to help students who are struggling
A Word From Nystrom & Associates
Visit our School-Based Mental Health Services page to learn how Nystrom & Associates is making a difference for mental health in school. If you’d like to make an appointment, call 1-844-NYSTROM or request an appointment online.