Students, specifically high schoolers, have a much harder time coping with and adapting to their ever-changing environment. With depression on the rise in the U.S., the younger millennial and Gen Z generations seem to be the majority of that makeup. Many factors could have driven the recent spike in depression and anxiety in the U.S.—social media, our current political state, and even school only make up a fraction of them. However, there are two major questions we all should be asking: What are we going to do about this, and how will we make it better?
For some, mental health issues are a temporary occurrence, while for others, they are a daily reality. Mental Health Clinics have been established in many hospitals across the nation and continue to grow, combatting this issue. But what if that’s not enough? Students have it worse as stress brought onto them by school, their social life, or even just trying to keep up with everything they are going through.
Even politicians acknowledge their struggles with mental health. “If you put mental health issues on top of all the other job pressures, that is very challenging,” says Patrick Kennedy, a former congressman from Rhode Island. They themselves know the imminent struggle of keeping up with an important job with onset depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems. According to the Washington Examiner, people are afraid to seek help because they are scared of how they might look to others. This only does more harm than good. Students fear scrutiny from their peers. Some state governments have begun to issue out “Mental Health Days,” days dedicated to taking a mental break from a great stressor. One such initiative-driver is Virginia. A Virginia bill was proposed, depicting that mental health education is required in the 9th and 10th grades, as well as in younger grades. The bill is to be reviewed by the Virginia Board of Education, its approval due in January of 2020. This bill only came about after Virginia high schoolers began to realize the severity of the issue. “At each of our high schools, we had individuals who attempted suicide either at school or outside of school,” says Lucas Johnson, a graduate of Monticello High School in Charlottesville, Virginia.
As other states are starting to follow Virginia’s example, new concerns have been arising. Since teachers have to adapt to this new manner of teaching, multiple states are requiring teachers to go through a mental health training program and suicide prevention initiative.
“We want to ensure that the schools are well situated to handle any of the referrals that might come in,” says Amanda Fitzgerald, director of public policy for the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), “and that schools have resources in place to get folks the help they need.” With such improvements in the educational system, mental health is becoming more and more deinstitutionalized. Students will perhaps finally receive the help they deserve.