Worldwide Education on Mental Health
After going through four years of high school, I started to realize that mental health wasn’t part of many school’s curriculums. I am appreciative that my school, in particular, didn’t fall in line with this common trend. Mental health educations is an important and necessary part of our education, especially in high school where we suffer the most from stress, depression, anxiety and body image problems. School is a great place to make kids and parents aware of the mental illnesses that might be harming them. In reality, many kids realize there is something wrong with them but are not educated enough to realize the root of the disorder or what the disorder is specifically. Before doing research on mental education and awareness in school, I realized that there are millions of kids that don’t know what Avoidant personality disorder, Bulimia nervosa, Insomnia, Dyslexia, or Schizophrenia are. The schools that make mental health an important part of their student education have seen that mental illnesses are an epidemic that is increasing and see the importance of combating it through education.
Interview with psychology teacher, Dr. Kathryn Brooks:
Q: Why do you include mental health education in your psychology course?
A: I include mental health in my course because (a) it’s important for basic scientific understanding of the brain and mind (i.e., to understand how the brain works, we need to see what happens when things go wrong) and (b) because I want students to be empowered to recognize and help address mental illness in their lives. The latter is more important to me. There is so much stigma and misunderstanding around mental health, and most people are very reluctant to seek help. I want my students to be able to help themselves and the people they love– to know that things can get better, and if they are suffering they aren’t weird, abnormal, or destined to be unhappy.
Q: Do you think teaching high schoolers about mental health is beneficial?
A: Yes, my answer to this is basically the same as what I said before. It’s knowledge people can use.
Q: Do you think all schools, students, teachers, and facility included, should have to teach and/or learn about mental health and health illnesses? Why or why no?
A: I don’t think everyone should teach it, but I think everyone should certainly have a baseline level of understanding about the causes and treatments for mental illness. More generally, I think all educators should have some basic counseling skills – how to be active listeners, how to support students, etc.
Q: What is your opinion on the phrase “abnormal psychology”?
A: I think that the phrase is problematic because it perpetuates the negative stigma surrounding mental illnesses and mental health education. While I understand the use of it for your course, I think that it implies that people with mental illness and disorders aren’t “normal”.
- One in five children, between the age of 13 and 18, in America, have symptoms of a mental disorder.
- Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in youth ages 10- 24.
- 90% of those who died by suicide had an underlying mental illness.
- 43.8 million adults in America experience mental illnesses in a given year.
- Nearly 1 in 25 (10 million) adults in America live with a serious mental illness.
- 1 in 100 (2.4 million) of American adults live with schizophrenia.
- 2.6% (6.1 million) of American adults live with bipolar disorder.
- 6.9% (16 million) of American adults live with major depression.
- 18.1% (42 million) of American adults live with anxiety disorders.
- Nearly 60% of American adults didn’t receive mental health service in the previous year.
- Nearly 50% of American youths aged 8-15 didn’t receive mental health service in the previous year.
- Feeling very sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks.
- Trying to harm or kill oneself or making plans to do so.
- Out-of-control, risk-taking behaviors that can cause harm to self or others.
- Sudden overwhelming fear for no reason sometimes with a racing heart, physical discomfort or fast breathing.
- Not eating or throwing up consistently.
- significant weight loss or gain.
- Extreme difficulty in concentrating or staying still that can lead to failure in school.
- Repeated use of drugs or alcohol.
My proposal is to make mental health education a requirement for all people working in the educational field. Teachers and faculty should have to attend mental health workshops. These workshops would include education and awareness about the various mental illnesses, information about the signs of mental illness, and education on the ways to help others who may have a mental illness. These workshops would also give teachers the tools to help someone in need and experience with being comfortable with discussing mental health.
- Help for Mental Illness and information on different mental illnesses https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/find-help/index.shtml
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
- Become a suicide hotline volunteer: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/participate/
- Open hotline to speak with other high schoolers: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/participate/
- Ted Talk about mental health: https://www.ted.com/talks/sangu_delle_there_s_no_shame_in_taking_care_of_your_mental_health
- Ted Talk about depression: https://www.ted.com/talks/nikki_webber_allen_don_t_suffer_from_your_depression_in_silence#t-383454
My next steps would be getting in contact with local schools and tell them about to importance of including mental health education in their schools. I would suggest that they implement easily accessible resources for mental health in the school and creating a positive stigma around caring about mental health through school-wide discussions. I would also suggest that they install lessons about mental health in P.E. classes to start because I think it is a great environment to learn about your physical health as well as your mental health, which is just as important.
Anderson, Meg, and Kavitha Cardoza. “Mental Health In Schools: A Hidden Crisis Affecting Millions Of Students August 31, 20166:00 AM ET.” NPR, NPR, 31 Aug. 2016, www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/08/31/464727159/mental-health-in-schools-a-hidden-crisis-affecting-millions-of-students.
“Mental Health Education Programs.” Minding Your Mind, mindingyourmind.org/what-we-do/mental-health-education-program/.
“NAMI.” NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness, NAMI, www.nami.org/Learn-More/Public-Policy/Mental-Health-in-Schools.
Page, Damien. “Five Things Schools Can Do to Help Pupils’ Mental Health.” The Conversation, The Conversation, 13 Apr. 2018, theconversation.com/five-things-schools-can-do-to-help-pupils-mental-health-79376.