Mental health should be taught more in schools

Meredith Abramczyk, Staff Writer

School makes me…

  • Stressed
  • Sad
  • Depressed and suicidal

In 2017, it’s not uncommon to hear such things among high school students. Studies from the American Psychological Association show that normal teens today have more anxiety than psychiatric patients in the 1950’s. “The results of the study suggest that cases of depression will continue to increase in the coming decades, as anxiety tends to predispose people to depression,” according to Jean M. Twenge, psychologist and author of on of the studies.  

None of this should be surprising considering that mental illness is becoming more common among  today’s teenagers. Mental illnesses are classified as mental health disorders that affect mood, thinking, and behavior. They can develop as a result of genetics, psychological, and environmental factors. There are five major categories of mental illnesses: anxiety disorders, mood disorders, psychological disorders, schizophrenia, and dementia, each with more subcategories that can turn fatal if not correctly treated. Statistics show about 20 percent of today’s youth from ages 13 to 18 live with a form of mental illness.

People say that mental illness is not a real illness, that people suffering just have to toughen up because “everyone gets stressed or sad sometimes,” or that only people who are suffering in life can have a mental illness, but all statements are far from the truth. Take the death of Chester Bennington, the late lead vocalist of the band Linkin Park, who died on July 20, 2017 by suicide. Just a week before his death, Linkin Park filmed a Carpool Karaoke, where Bennington can be seen smiling and laughing. In a recent New York Post article, a 17- year-old boy committed suicide on his school grounds earlier this year. Before his death, he posted a message pointing out individuals that influenced his decision to die. This shows that anyone, including celebrities, family members, or friends, could be suffering from mental illnesses and it isn’t always the people who have a hard life. According to the Centers for Disease Control, every year 41,000 people in the United States commit suicide. It is the tenth leading cause of death in America, and the second leading cause of death for teens.

Social media is also a reason why teenagers need to know about the signs of mental illnesses. A few years ago, a challenge went around the different social media platforms called The Blue Whale Challenge, invented by a man named Philipp Budeikin. There were 50 different challenges within the “game” that consisted of watching horror movies, waking up at an unhealthy time, cutting and self mutilation, and committing suicide. The game has killed at least 130 teens according to an article from The Sun. Luckily, this ¨game” was stopped before it could go further, but it shows how vulnerable teens are on the internet.

As someone who has seen and heard stories of loved ones who have suffered from mental illness, I’ve seen what it can do to people, and how serious this is. Mental illnesses can make someone believe they’re alone, or that they’re worthless, and that can lead to a drastic decision, whether it’s self harm or suicide.  Without awareness and without people having the knowledge of what mental illness is and what it can do, more and more people will lose themselves, but by learning these signs, someone can save lives by getting people the help that they need.

Schools have the perfect chance to provide the education needed through the mandatory Health course. However, based on my experience in that class, there was little to no information shared concerning mental health, and it was focused primarily on nutrition. While nutrition is important, while students should learn how to keep their bodies healthy, students must also learn how to keep their minds healthy as well. As these disorders are becoming more and more prominent, it is crucial that people know what the signs are and how to help those in need so they could possibly save a life.