As mental health disorders continue to rise, should schools begin to evaluate their students? The short answer is yes, they should. In fact, about 1 in 5 teens and young adults say that they’re unhappy, and 1 in 10 say they have a challenge that affects their everyday life.
So why should school be the one to handle mental health? Disorders commonly develop during child and teen years and the stress of school years can help the disorders start and progress. Mental health disorders disrupt schooling. Students with mental health disorders have multiple absences, give low efforts, have disruptive behavior, and even drop out. Suicide rates are also rising. From 2000 to 2016, female suicide went up 50%, and male suicide rates increased 21%. Suicide in teen years is the second leading cause of death in the USA. Nationally, only 40% of high schoolers with mental health disorders graduate, compared to the 76% overall graduation average. The pressure of deciding their path after school (often forced by the school itself) is a lot on a student’s shoulders.
School evaluations are one of the most reasonable ways to reach out to students. But some argue students won’t open up to others around them, which is true. Some kids are very closed in and are scared or worried to approach someone and put their thoughts out there. But, even offering the help or an outlet to go to can give students a more reassuring perspective of their surroundings. If schools can offer a helping hand, maybe the rising rates of mental health disorders can begin to fall.
Some others say schools don't have the funding for on-campus therapy or the availability for teachers to help. For some schools, that may be true. But, free services such as teacher lunch bunch could do a lot for kids. Also, simply finding a teacher or counselor students are comfortable with can help students open up and let out feelings. The ability for students to have a free period and go see a teacher or counselor can provide comfort as well.
Mental health units in science and health classes should teach students how to notice personal difficulties. Health classes discuss the topic, but rarely dig into the disorders individually. Classes, such as biology or psychology, may touch on the complex topic of mental health, but often don’t go into detail on the topic.
Evaluating students would benefit everyone involved in the students’ lives. Children and teens who suffer from mental health disorders can become more comfortable in their surroundings. Providing outlets to those who need it can stop the rise of suicide and mental health difficulties. If schools provide welcoming environments, the rise of mental health difficulties can start slowing down.