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Janie Slaven: THE TEACHER'S DESK: The Mental Side of Things

Times-Tribune - 12/7/2023

Dec. 6—How much do students in school systems know about mental health? How can mental health affect a person? Mental health is important because the results of not having enough education about mental health can forever affect the lives of people and communities. Mental health problems can negatively impact a person on a day-to-day basis, and people need to take care of their mental health just like they do physical health. Students are not educated in mental health enough. It is often overlooked and not taken as seriously as it should be.

When I'm at school I hear students say they're depressed, but do they know the true extent of depression? Most students don't. They say it as a joke, but it's not. With that being said, students should be taught the true extent of what mental health is and how serious it can be. Too many kids suffer from mental disorders to not be educated about it. With this becoming a habit, it seems schools have begun to lay back, and now mental health is overlooked.

Even when I'm walking in the halls to my next class, I wonder just how many kids I pass with mental disorders that go undiagnosed or not talked about; how many fight the silent battles and feel alone and empty. With mental disorder rates growing among teens, students need more mental support in their lives because it's not easy regardless of what age they are. Mental health should come first in our schools and life in general.

It is hard for some people to understand because not all people can relate to those who have mental disorders.

Some people never have had to fight the mental battle on a day-to-day basis, making it difficult to try to relate to the people that do fight this battle. Another thing people struggle to understand is that mental health can also be genetic. Some people limited from life-changing opportunities simply because society has labeled mental illness as incapable and nonfunctional.

People who suffer from issues with mental health didn't ask for these illnesses, they were simply born with them. Many kids are quiet when something is wrong. They don't want to be labeled and held back like others and this does not need to be the case.

In conclusion, our school systems need a better support system for our students because as we know, students are with teachers more than their parents. They should feel safe and comfortable talking to their teachers about their mental health problems. Another thing our schools need to start understanding is that parents can be fueling mental health issues in their kids in some cases. Some students have less than great home lives and our schools should be a safe environment.

As a school system, we should learn and teach more about mental health, how to handle tough situations when students are out of their comfort zone, understand how mental disorders impact individuals and how you can support students even if you never fully understand the pain and weight they carry.

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