Why Is Mental Health Awareness a Must in School These Days?
What is the most crucial factor necessary for a student’s success? Is it intellect, or is it the teacher’s input or the time spent studying? To your surprise, it’s none of those factors as mentioned earlier.
The most critical factor that plays a vital role in students’ success is their good mental health. Hence, despite having fewer responsibilities and a carefree attitude, a teenager committing suicide has become common.
According to research, there is a significant increase in mental illness amongst teenagers and young adults. Every 1 out of 5 teenagers meets the criteria of potential mental illness. The most common disorders observed are anxiety disorders, eating disorders, disruptive behaviors, etc. Irrational behavior, moodiness that lasts for several days, and irregular eating habits are common signs of a teenager leading to mental illnesses.
As mental health issues are prevalent amongst youngsters, many schools and colleges offer regular counseling sessions. Such professional school counselors work with the students from their first day until college. They work dedicatedly to support their academic achievements, help them nurture their social development, and encourage them to work on personal growth.
Similarly, many students face difficulty in exploring their interests and ambitions. They feel pressured to choose a major in college. However, a professional school counselor helps them navigate their interests and prepares them for personal and academic success. So if you wish for a successful career in changing people’s lives for the better, you can do a postgraduate in professional school counseling. Fortunately, e-learning has made our lives so much easier. Many universities now offer masters in school counseling online programs. By enrolling in such a program, you can actively contribute to helping the students address their emotional struggles and peer pressure that may affect their mental health. Similarly, there are several other reasons why mental health awareness has become necessary in schools:
1. Early Detection
Precaution is better than cure; therefore, early detection of any condition helps control its prevalence. According to research, almost half of individuals who have a mental illness of any kind, the first onset is usually at an average age of 14 years. And by the age of 24, the number increases from 50% to 75%. Hence, early detection and intervention are essential for mental health illnesses, just like every other disease. However, unfortunately, most cases remain undiagnosed, untreated, or poorly treated. Hence, the teachers, school psychologists, and counselors should look for early signs or spot any significant changes in their behavior. So if it is detected earlier, there are higher chances of stopping it from being a full-blown condition.
2. Influence of Social Media
Social media is the best source of trends, entertainment, and connection with loved ones. However, there is a dark side to it which we don’t usually talk about. The truth says that social media can leave scars on the user’s mental health. When we see celebrities and their lifestyle, it is natural to feel jealous or insecure. However, the impact is even more significant on youngsters as their mental health is fragile. Hence social media has become a threat to teenagers and young adults. Therefore, schools and institutes should raise their bars of mental health awareness. They should emphasize self-love, acceptance, and not judge others. Students should also be encouraged to talk about their insecurities openly.
3. Peer Pressure And Influence
Life was simple 50 years ago, especially for teenagers and young adults. With the ongoing trends, life has become complex for youngsters. We often use the term” peer pressure,” but a better alternative is “peer influence.” So it means to do something you wouldn’t have done otherwise because you are worried about not being accepted by friends or colleagues. Hence you do something that is totally against your will. But, peer influence is not negative every time; it can be positive as well. For example, a student learns assertive behavior or tries new school activities. So by building up self-compassion and staying connected with the child, teachers and counselors can help students deal with peer pressure.
4. Closing the Gap of Mental Health
The primary objective of schools and teachers is to prepare the kids for the real world that awaits them and any obstacles that may come in their way. So in most of the physical education classes, teachers teach children about nutrition and exercise. Health classes teach children how to stay fit and active. Similarly, finance education teaches them about budgeting and running a business. However, no curriculum represents mental health. This considerable gap impacts society’s mental health and the upcoming generation immensely. So when there is poor knowledge, a student cannot understand the problem they are experiencing. They won’t know how to open up about it and seek help. Hence, there is a significant need to fill this gap.
5. Eliminate The Cause
It is necessary to know about the negative impact of mental illness and how to treat it. In addition to these factors, the most crucial factor is to see the root cause. It is imperative to know about the cause of anxiety, depression, or stress. And the most common source of mental illness amongst youngsters is school. Students feel pressured by peers, bullying, comparison, and academic competition. So if you knew what was causing the distress, you would take the required initiative to eliminate the cause and create a stress-free and warm atmosphere.
A Take-Home Message
A school is where teenagers and young adults spend most of their time. It is where students make friends and new relationships form. It is where youngsters find their self-worth and celebrate their achievements. Similarly, it is also where mental health illness develops or worsens. Hence, it is imperative to emphasize mental health awareness. Schools should provide reliable information and guidance to deal with disturbed inner peace. Therefore schools should take the initiative and hire professionals that can work together to raise awareness on mental health.