Mental Illness in School Systems: Curable or Ignorable?

By: Madison Clabough

One in five youth have a mental health condition, with half of mental health conditions developing by age 14. Yet, less than half of youth with mental health conditions received any kind of treatment in the past year. Undiagnosed, untreated, and inadequately treated mental illnesses significantly interfere with a student’s ability to learn, to grow, and to develop. With many research outlets covering this topic, why are schools still ignoring it?

Since children spend most of their time in educational settings, schools should provide opportunities to identify and treat mental health conditions by serving students where they already are. Our school has tremendously failed to recognize mental health in students, let alone teachers. No outreach resources are offered to students, faculty, or teachers. If we have any issues, we are left on the backburner because apparently students’ issues are inferior compared to authorities issues. Students or teachers don’t have any issues because their lives are perfect, because mental health only exists in poverty-stricken areas, people with traumatic backgrounds, or abusive environments. Mental health in schools is thrown under the rug and goes unnoticed all the time. Whenever we go to an administrator to tell them about our issues, they only handle it on the top ‘skin’ layer so to speak, instead of digging down to the bone; so they find it unnecessary to handle the problem because it’s “out of their control”.

When parents trust the school system enough to give their kids away to them for almost 7.5 hours, 5 days a week, then shouldn’t they be like a second family outlet to the students? And naturally while being a family figure to someone- troublesome, emotional, and gut-wrenching times are going to come along with it. We are all humans with feelings and emotions living on a rock that spins in outer space. (so at least we all have that in common). At the end of the day, we would like to be treated by caring and understanding personalities. No matter what skin color we have, mental illness we have, socio-economic background we’ve come from, financial status, or environment we are accustomed to, we are all apart of one race- the human race. And of course we all have our faults- that just comes with being human and making mistakes.

Honestly it’s not completely surprising that mental illness is running rampant in schools when you look at all of the bullying, harassment, and sexual harassment that is taking place in school and ‘educational’ enviroments, then no wonder students have depression, anxiety, social anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. The problem needs to come to an end when it has reached the point where some students don’t even want to come to school because of the demoralizing thought that they will get judged/bullied. Suicidal and demoralizing thoughts run rampant especially while being a teenager in high school, surrounded by peers that only think of themselves while they’re on their egotistical high horse that they can’t be knocked off of. When a problem arises in our life where we need a second opinion, or help from a trusted teacher or authority personnel, we get judged for having a mental illness or people assume students have one based off of what they’re thinking or what they’re going through. So many students commit suicide yearly because of authorities that are horrible at doing their job and delivering the help that the student needs. Students get assumptions instead of help. Sometimes even Child Protective Services are called on students that are having suicidal thoughts, just because they are thinking that way; people think they are psychotic or crazy for thinking like that so they get punished, turned down help, or put on suicide watch when all they need is help. Just one person can change their life. But as students are looking for that light at the end of the tunnel, all they get is the turn-around into deeper darkness; not help.

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