Emma Newman staff writer
Despite the fact that 20 percent of teens worldwide have mental health issues, mental health education is not a graduation requirement at Beverly.
Our school needs to start enforcing mental health education because the NormanAid programs have not been enough to end the stigma, teach students about all of the mental health risks and help all of our students navigate their own mental health journeys.
NormanAid is a great resource for students who are willing to acknowledge that they are struggling with mental health. However, students may not know if the struggles they are facing justify a visit to NormanAid. If Beverly had school-wide education about mental health issues, students could learn more about the resources available and whether they could be helped by counseling services.
This education would be specifically important because mental health is an issue that the majority of the student body has dealt with according to a poll administered by Highlights on Oct. 7. In fact, 64 percent of all Beverly students, according to the survey of 109 students, have been concerned for their mental health. Some of these concerns include anxiety, depression, self-consciousness, ADHD, eating disorders and self-harm. However, only 44 percent of students actually have seen any counselor in regards with their mental health.
Students who have mental health issues may not be aware of the severity of the situation. In a world where phrases like “I’m depressed,” “I want to kill myself” and “I’m having an anxiety attack” are normalized, people who actually have these feelings may view mental health as a joke. More importantly, the friends and acquaintances around people who have mental issues may make the person feel like their problems aren’t legitimate. It is unhealthy for students to think of mental health as a side comment in a conversation between friends when it is such a dangerous and important topic. Students should be informed about the real issues surrounding mental health, which our school could teach in a mental health class.
When people view mental health as insignificant, it makes it easier for counseling to be frowned upon. This is a real issue in our school, and some people, including 30 percent of freshmen according to a poll administered by Highlights on Sept. 19, would feel embarrassed to go get help regarding their mental health. This is simply unacceptable, for some students desperately need support when combating mental health issues.The best way to teach our students that counseling should not be shameful is to make them learn about why it is necessary.
Without destigmatizing and informing students about the serious risks of mental health, certain individuals could be prone to hurting themselves. In a world where 17% of teenagers have had serious thoughts about suicide, mental health awareness and education cannot continue to be a sidenote at our school. Our school recognizes the importance of teaching a physical health education class, and it’s time for the same to apply to mental health.
In order to teach our students about all aspects of mental health, our school should make one semester of mental health necessary to graduate, like Health. Health may talk about some of the issues that are related to mental health, but it doesn’t dive deep enough into the importance of counseling and the complicated realities of eating disorders, anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders. It also doesn’t talk about the stigma surrounding mental health, nor does it allow students to receive proper information about long-term solutions to these problems. By dedicating a class to mental health, it would become a priority in a way it hasn’t been thus far.
To some, an extra class may seem inconvenient and unnecessary, but in comparison to the positive effects of potentially saving teen lives, the inconvenience is insignificant. If teaching a course about mental health could possibly stop a student at our school from hurting themselves, then every extra schedule change is worth it.
If the problem was small, our school’s current resources would be enough. However, considering the fact that mental health concerns affect many of our students, our administrators need to do more. Our mental health should be worth a class, and until that happens, this school cannot truly say that it is doing everything in its power to help its students.