It is incredibly important that we raise awareness of mental health issues in schools. Mental illness can affect anyone at any time, and by educating the students earlier on what to do when a friend or classmate has a mental health issue, they can be more prepared for these situations later on in life. The benefits of raising awareness about mental health are multifaceted- from reducing stigma to empowering victims of abuse- but all share one goal: helping people with their problems.
Mental Health Awareness Day is an international event where people come together to discuss their views on mental illnesses like depression and anxiety as well as offer support to those who need it most. It’s important now more than ever for teachers, counselors, parents and students alike to understand the importance.
Firstly, mental health awareness in schools can reduce stigma surrounding mental illness. There are many myths about mental health that need to be corrected with education, namely the idea that mental illness is the fault of a person’s character or personality. However, mental health issues like depression and abuse still carry a lot of stigmas surrounding them: people seem to think that one must be weak-willed and flawed to suffer from mental illness or abuse; this simply isn’t true.
For instance, bullying is an epidemic in school systems across the world; but bullying carries such a huge stigma around it because we assume young people should be able to speak to someone trusted about. If mental health awareness was raised in schools, perhaps bullying wouldn’t be quite as bad because students would know they can talk to their teachers or counselors about mental illnesses.
The American Psychological Association released a study that showed mental illness costs $193 billion each year in the United States . Of course, this number comes from mental health expenses and lost productivity both at work and school; if mental health awareness was more prevalent, then perhaps these numbers could decrease. There are countless other statistics regarding mental illness- for instance, up to 1 in 6 children have suffered some kind of trauma by the time they turn eighteen- so understanding the scope of mental illness is so important. We need to keep people aware of what exactly mental health issues encompass so we can prevent individuals from suffering.
Identifying at risk behaviors can be a clue as to a child who may be silently suffering. For example, if a child seems to be incredibly quiet all of a sudden, or begins to frequently pull away from their peers, then mental health issues might be the cause. Other warning signs include becoming increasingly isolated, sleeping too much or not enough, losing interest in activities they once enjoyed, and frequent complaints about pain.
It is hard for teachers and parents alike to recognize these signs- especially because mental health awareness isn’t taught in school- but it’s important that mental illness is addressed by somebody before something serious happens.
Helping victims of sexual assault has been another benefit of mental health awareness in schools. What mental health awareness does is open students’ eyes about mental illnesses so they are able to get help if somebody close to them needs.
If you are a parent, educator, or clinician and want to learn more about how mental health can be improved in schools, we’re here for you. Let us know if any of these topics resonate with your experience working with children and teens. Our team is committed to helping parents create safe environments where kids feel accepted so they don’t have to resort to high-risk behaviors like bullying or suicide because their needs were not met at home or school. We offer medication management as well as individual therapy sessions so that all members of the family get the help they need from trusted professionals who understand what it means to grow up today. Call New Age Psychiatry today for a consultation on reducing risk behavior by addressing underlying causes through psychiatry services.