OPINION: Let’s Talk About Mental Health

Arguably one of the most controversial yet unspoken topics that our students are dealing with is mental health. 

     The current health services offered by our school only pertain to physical health and preventing the spreading of illness, according to the district website. Although guidance and counseling are provided, the perception of school counselors is that they are only there for school-related issues and the college application process. 

     I took a poll recently to get other students’ opinions and input on questions that I had about mental health at our school. 100% of the students that responded want mental health to be talked about more at school. 

     There is a negative stigma surrounding mental health, mental illness, and other psychological issues. To positively impact this and bring an end to this stigma, issues like these need to be talked about. Whether in an assembly about suicide awareness/prevention or incorporated into the school curriculum, these issues need to be addressed and our students need to be educated on the invisible illnesses that many our classmates have to deal with daily. 

     According to the total number of students in the 2016-2017 school year, there would be around 374 students that will experience a severe mental illness at some point in their life according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. 

     Along with all of the stress that comes with approaching the end of the semester, the pressure of finals, the worry of college decisions and college applications, and the craziness of the holidays. Seasonal depression-also known as seasonal affective disorder- comes into play during these winter months. 100% of respondents agreed that it is important to provide resources for mental health. Therapists and psychiatrists are expensive services, and some won’t accept insurance, so getting therapy or medication can be an impossible task for many students that are struggling severely. 

     If the school provided resources such as licensed therapists, therapy dogs, accommodation for anxiety (like a calm room), excused mental health days, and/or psychiatrists, it would allow many students who would have not been able to be diagnosed or seek help due to cost or fear.

Written by Hanna Gaither

photo by Jeremy Perkins on Unsplash

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