Student Mental Health Remains a Large Issue for Stockton Students, Let’s Fix It

By: Jeremy Manwaring [He, They]

The most prominent education issues students in Stockton encounter are stigmas surrounding mental health, accessibility to mental health resources, and educational performance.

Mental health is a critical issue not discussed in classrooms. Every day, students are constantly bombarded with assignments, deadlines, and expectations with little regard to how students might fare mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Many students also do not have access to resources when a mental health crisis arises. Getting professional and medical help can be extremely hard to do as it often requires going through an adult. Many students only have access to emotionally unsupportive parents or guardians. Sometimes, these adults hold unconscious biases against mental health. That level of neglect from a caretaker can be an unbearable burden on a student.

Aside from this, students have reservations about receiving mental health support. For many students, mental health support as a concept often promotes negative images of mental institutions, excessive prescription use, and rooms with emotionally prying therapists. This can discourage students from receiving the mental health treatment they deserve, which can lead to both academic and personal issues.

Students are not educated in classrooms, or well taught in the curriculum on how to manage assignments, and instead are given assignments with the complete expectation of well-rounded academic performance and achievement; without considering how well-rounded academic programs and achievement can be manifested.

Teenagers and children are expected to perform, but are not taught how to manage themselves in order to perform, and therefore has made a high preexisting condition of teenage depression, emotional imbalance, social anxiety, and performance anxiety that exists throughout the education system. Mental health might not seem like an issue to some, but this leads to an array of problems that exceptionally affects all other aspects of a schooling system. Which include but are not limited to;

  • Teenage Suicide
  • Excessive absenteeism
  • Drug use
  • Violence (mental and physical)
  • Bullying
  • Low academic performance
  • Vandalism, among many others.

If not resolved, many of these problems may affect how children function in the future and can lead to worse issues. This makes it so integral that a solution must be found and handed in order for students to healthily grow physically, emotionally, and mentally as much as they can.

There is a solution!

Now, some schools do provide some solutions to address mental health, and as we head to the future, many solutions have been brought into place in order to provide students with some resources.

For example, schools do provide programs and counselors to deal with students who are categorized as high-risk. Schools also provide hotlines for mental health access and resources are shared.

But it is often not enough.

The problem with giving students the help they need once they are considered high-risk is just that, they are already high at risk. Prevention is the key to helping students achieve in the first place, not when students are already struggling with grades and missing dozens of days of school. Yes, it helps, but often not enough.

Resources are also shared, but they are often never utilized. A poster promoting better mental health and providing a resource can be hung around a school poster pinboard, but it is just that, a school poster pinboard. These are often ignored and are barely utilized, which leaves these programs empty, but extremely helpful if used. These resources are not being utilized because of the surrounding stigma that already encapsulates getting help in the first place, students are not taught how to seek help when needed and are not taught how to regulate conflicts and emotions in the first place leading to problems that soon weigh on an individual’s mental health.

Students that aren’t recognized as high-risk are also not receiving the treatment they need. Most students go on with their school day acting like nothing is wrong and can be suffering from mental health issues, which the school will not and cannot recognize. This often remains the case for schools with large student populations where kids can get lost and neglected.

Schools should build a new system that focuseson both mental wellness and academic achievement. The current way of doing things is not working.

When done correctly, these changes can result in a significant change in student mindsets, academic achievement, and mental wellness. If we do this, then we pave the way for much better schooling.

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