by Hi's Eye staff
In the wake of the tragic story of the Edison, NJ teen who took his life by driving on the wrong side of Route 27, our staff wished to address the need for more mental health support for students. It is imperative for schools to play a larger role in reaching out to students to ensure their safety and that of the community.
According to nami.org, only 20 percent of children who suffer from mental health disorders are identified and receive the help they need. Since stress can be overwhelming for teens, schools must clarify what they have available in terms of emotional support.
For some, speaking to school counselors helps ease emotional stressors. However, one problem is the limited number of licensed psychologists. Also, students may feel uncomfortable reaching out to the same counselor for both college applications and mental health concerns.
According to a New York Times blog, “The school counseling profession has been reinvented and today’s school counselors provide a different set of skills and services to our schools, our students and our communities.”
In order for students to be aware of the available resources, school officials should highlight these student support systems at freshman orientations as well as at yearly class meetings.
Students may feel ashamed of reaching out to someone else for help. According to iastate.edu, “Some adolescents may be particularly reluctant to seek help because of the threats to their developing self-esteem.”Taking this into account, the school community must support students’ efforts in reaching out to a trusted adult. It is up to teachers and peers to report unusual behavior to someone who can help.
Recently, a change in federal rulings has required insurance companies to cover mental as well as physical health as part of their policies. Schools should be taking a similar approach; every year students are marched into the health office for a vision and hearing exam, but never for their psychological health.
It should be required that schools take each student and sit them down with a psychologist to have a conversation regarding their mental health and ensure that they are able to thrive in the classroom without other pressures.
Due to an increase in stress, students struggle to cope with the world around them. We must work together to overcome these obstacles and to provide the proper support to students.Students are not seeking the help they deserve partly because schools lack both the resources and the culture of awareness regarding mental health.