The Importance of Mental Health in Schools

Today’s youth are on track to be the first generation of children who, by age 18, will have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. 

The primary cause for this startling statistic is our children’s unprecedented levels of stress.  

Although it is often hard to pinpoint the precise reasons for the increased stress, statistics suggest that the rise of mental health problems in children and adolescents can be directly linked to the increase in this level of stress. 

Although the statistics are very alarming, they do not fully illustrate the sad truth about today’s youth. The fears and pressures of today’s society are increasingly suppressing our children’s mental health and causing them to develop debilitating disorders such as anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. 

How We Got Here 

The rise of mental health problems in children and adolescents can be directly linked to the increase in stress. 

It is important to understand that it is not a problem with the children but rather a problem with the society they are growing up in.  

The increasing rate at which today’s youth are diagnosed with mental illnesses suggests that today’s society lacks a supportive environment for children to grow up in. 

Today’s stressful environment starts from an early age.  

Children are growing up amid financial hardship, high levels of materialism, and crime, all of which contribute to their anxieties about their family and community situation and future career prospects. 

Anxiety Symptoms 

Children are especially vulnerable to external stresses. Anxious thoughts can lead children to feel overwhelmed and helpless, which, in turn, can lead to feelings of shame for not being able to cope with their anxiety. 

This will cause them difficulties in their daily lives – problems with family and friends, problems in school or work, substance abuse issues, and increased suicide attempts. 

Fortunately, most children who experience anxiety will never develop a diagnosable disorder; however, many of them will continue having problems throughout their teenage years – developing panic disorders or depression later on.  

It is therefore important that they are provided with adequate support now – before it reaches a stage where it cannot be reversed. 

How Schools Can Help Children Cope with Anxiety 

Schools have a large part to play in the battle against mental health in children. From school counselors to extracurricular activities and mental health education, schools can provide children with the tools to help them cope with stress and anxiety. 

School counselors are a good place for children to start. With their knowledge and expertise, they provide a safe space for children to discuss their problems and learn coping mechanisms to support them through difficult times. 

Extracurricular activities provide an opportunity for children to have fun while developing communication skills and social circles that they can use as confidence boosters when they are stressed out at school.  

There are also schools that are establishing mental health workshops that involve the participation of students, teachers, parents, counselors, administrators, and even doctors – which is a great step in the right direction. 

The Symptoms of Stress in Children 

Children exhibit stress symptoms in a different way than adults.  

Stress in children can result in them showing signs of anxiety or exhibiting physical symptoms, both of which can be alarming to parents. 

Symptoms of stress in children include:  

  • Lying 
  • Losing interest in activities they once enjoyed 
  • Withdrawing from social situations 
  • Focusing excessively on their appearance or what people think of them.  
  • Acting out – for example, getting into fights or telling inappropriate jokes.
  • Sleeplessness – having difficulty sleeping and unrefreshed feeling in the morning.  
  • Overeating and constantly feeling hungry.  
  • Irritability – acting rudely, especially to parents and teachers.  
  • An increased level of physical complaints (headaches, stomachaches) that are hard to pinpoint a cause for.

If you have a child who is experiencing any signs of anxiety or stress, it is important to monitor them closely and support them through the difficult times.  

If you are worried that your child may be experiencing mental health issues, there is help available.  

It is important to note that there are different types of mental health disorders. Stress is a more general mental health disorder – meaning it can affect anyone at any time. 

What is the Effect of Stress on the Brain? 

A growing body of scientific evidence is showing that stress has serious effects on the health and well-being of children.  

Yet even though we are increasingly aware of the negative effects that stress has on children, it is still considered taboo to talk about stress in schools.  

This lack of acknowledgment could be one reason why not enough attention is being paid to the matter. 

Why Our Youth Need Mental Health Awareness in Schools 

Many children and youths endure the pain of their anxiety disorders on their own, in silence. They have no idea how to handle the feelings they are experiencing and are fearful about having a conversation about it with others because of the negative social stigma around mental health issues. 

Schools provide us with a vital opportunity to educate children and young adolescents about mental health issues through public campaigns and school-based initiatives.  

Children should be taught at an early age that these disorders are normal, treatable, and not something that they should be embarrassed about. 

Furthermore, schools can help children by implementing a supportive environment for them, with the following suggestions:  

It is important for adults to listen to children carefully when they have problems.  

Parents should not dismiss their children’s feelings or concerns as being “just a phase” because this dismissive attitude will only make them feel worse. 

It is also important for parents and teachers to encourage children to speak up about their feelings and encourage them to seek professional help if needed.  

In the short term, mental health issues can be extremely detrimental to school performance; in the long term, they can be severely damaging to a child’s self-esteem and morale, as well as their ability to form relationships later on in life.  

Although it may not seem like this now, your child will have a happier life if they learn how to deal with stress early on. 

What Schools Can Do to Better Support Students with Mental Health Issues 

Although schools are not fully able to address the needs of every child with mental health issues, they can take steps to make students feel more comfortable when they have difficulties coping.  

For instance, it is important for schools to focus on helping their students return to the academic environment and stay focused. This may mean ensuring that there is a quiet place in the classroom where children can focus on their assignments and study when necessary. 

Schools also need to provide children with opportunities to develop social skills and communication skills; offering extracurricular activities that allow classmates to interact will help them feel less isolated and isolated from leaders in the community. 

What Can We Do Next to Prevent the Growing Rate of Student Mental Illness 

In recent years, the increased rate of mental disorders in children has been concerning.  

This is especially true when you consider that nearly half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14 – meaning that young people are developing mental illness more than ever before. 

As a community, we need to be more assertive and proactive when it comes to the treatment and prevention of mental illness in our children. Better support can help a child better handle stress and anxiety as they grow up.  

Prevention will only make the world a better place – with happier children, communities, and homes that are able to share more love. 

If we can prevent disasters before they happen, the world will be a better place. 10% of people are going through some sort of mental illness – if we can help prevent it in children, it’ll save lives and make the world a better place.  

Children deserve better. 

Drug Use In Stressed and Anxious Children and Adolescents 

Along with the increase in mental health issues, there has been an increase in excessive drug use. In some cases, drugs are bought illegally by young adults and shared among friends.  

Many teens use drugs as a result of peer pressure – they want to be like their friends and imitate what they see them doing. Due to the popularization of drugs such as marijuana and cocaine, many teenagers have also begun using harder drugs such as heroin.  

If you are concerned that your child may be abusing or addicted to drugs, you can refer them for professional help.  

Drug use is harmful to children and adolescents in more ways than one; it can damage the physical and mental health of young people, as well as their development, academic performance, and social adjustment.  

When a child is intoxicated with drugs, they are more likely to experience accidents and injuries that could lead to long-term disability or death.  

They may also be less likely to seek help for other mental health issues because of their drug use. Even if your child does not have any immediate signs of addiction, it is still vital that you monitor them closely to ensure that they are not using drugs or at risk of using them.

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