Teen Topics: Mental Health In High School

Mental health is an important topic that has been prevalent throughout our history and will only increase in importance. Almost 1 in 10 children and young adults are affected by mental health problems and the rate is escalating. Between 50% and 70% of all mental illnesses occur before the age of 18, and therefore, can have an extreme impact on the development of a child.(North). These disorders affect people’s behaviors emotionally and physically throughout their entire lives; but some of the most common mental health difficulties that show up in school-aged children and young people are anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and depression (NIMH). Children especially are affected severely by mental illnesses. Without proper care and attention for them, the distress and burden could change the children’s behaviors at home, school, with peers, and in the community. Mental health is widely known and talked about, but not referred to enough at a young adult’s age. My thoughts on mental health is that it needs to be mentioned more. School-based health programs should focus on mental wellness and perhaps even provide the required treatment.

Mental health is a frightening issue to discuss, as it discriminates against no one. Additionally, these issues can affect people throughout their lives And though there are ways to minimize the damage, there is no real way to prevent it. Children spend an average of 1,000 out of 6,000 waking hours a year in schools (School). It would make sense that if a student was experiencing a mental health issue, they would instinctively go to a contact at school first, right? Wrong. Though some students are able to take advantage of the resources found in their schools, others cannot. They don’t believe that their schools are a safe space where they can be honest, and this belief is often reality for some kids. Therefore, instead of confronting their problems head on, children tend to keep it to themselves. So what are we doing wrong? Why are students so afraid to talk about their issues in a school? Many students have difficulty fostering a healthy discussion about mental health in their schools due to the topic still being considered taboo. In the United States alone, suicide is the third leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 24 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Furthermore, a National Comorbidity Survey states that 11% of adolescents have a diagnosed depression disorder by the age of 18. Clearly these teenagers and young adults are not alone in their battle; so with all these people dealing with depression and other mental illnesses, why are we addressing the situation in such an impersonal way? There is a stigma surrounding those with mental health issues because others look and/or think of them differently, even in our progressive community. As such, mental health plays a huge role in the lives of young people. If these children are not able to talk to contacts at their schools, there should be people in their lives outside of their workplace that they trust and can talk to. This usually ends up being the children’s parents, or family. However, understanding the complexity of mental health can be challenging for adults as well as children. Common misunderstandings can be formed because of this challenge which can lead to children having less people to talk to about their problems.

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