Mental health, and behavioral health for that matter are hot-button issues. In our schools, it is important to monitor the mental health of both teachers and students. The issues of mental health include depression, anxiety, and often, substance abuse, too. Such issues are difficult enough for adults to cope with, how can we expect children and teenagers to cope without help? We examine the importance of addressing mental health in schools.
What are some of the consequences of unaddressed mental health issues? Unfortunately, they can come across as quite dire. These dire consequences often manifest as problems that continually plague schools: prolonged student absences, underachievement, constant disruptions and acting out, and perhaps most critically of all, dropouts.
In fact, a staggering amount of students – up to eighty percent – who may need treatment and others forms of assistance never receive it. Schools are places where students should be able to learn, grow, and thrive. And yet, that is often the hardest part of helping them succeed – schools and school administrators are too overburdened to do so. There are simply insufficient resources to address everything, and those who are working diligently are overwhelmed as well. Perhaps there are opportunities to join this essential field.
A solid plan for addressing mental health issues would encompass a variety of authority and community figures related to our students. For instance, it would start with the family and proceed to teachers. Social workers, counselors, special education teachers, school nurses, and even the principals can get involved too.
The Family: In theory, family members at home should and would be able to notice something is troubling their child. Substance use, falling grades, and sleep disruptions or disturbances are some major signs something isn’t right. However, most families don’t know what they should be on the lookout for.
Teachers: During the normal school week, teachers spend more time with the students than the students do with their own families. Thus, teachers can theoretically spot anything troubling the students. But teachers often aren’t given enough training to recognize mental health issues and have plenty else to do already.
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