Prioritizing mental health

Brianna Duncan , Reporter

Mental health continues to be one of the more ignored concerns in our society today, and everyone has a part in improving mental health awareness. Mental health is not just an issue in adults– it is a significant issue in teens as well, and can last long into adulthood if not properly diagnosed.

 Each day, about 20 percent of the millions of children attending school are struggling with a mental health disorder, according to The Washington Post. While schools continue to try to make mental health a priority, sometimes there is just not enough help for every student struggling with school, health or personal issues.

Whether a student is dealing with a breakup, anxiety, family issues, personal mental struggles or financial instability, help should always be available for them.

 “I would put this issue right up there with heart disease and diabetes,” said counselor Dawn Norman. “I think it would be hard to find somebody that hasn’t gone through a depression or PTSD or some sort of a mental crisis. It’s very important to have people to go to and have different programs to help you when those things happen.”

 While many schools do have access to a school counselor, they do not have the budget for a psychologist.

  “Going to their counselor can help of course, which if you know your counselor and you have a good relationship with them, that’s going to be a little bit easier,” Norman added. “There’s some big issues going on out there and if kids don’t feel like they can go and talk to their counselors and they haven’t met them already, then they might feel like they don’t have anybody to talk to but they can always go and talk to their counselor.”

 YouthBridge is also another option students have to receive help at school. YouthBridge is a non-profit agency that serves over 3,000 youths and their families each year in the areas of abuse, neglect, addiction, homelessness, mental health and behavioral problems.

Mental health in teens can be a difficult issue to deal with, especially for family and friends around them. A few red flags parents can look for in their children is excessive sleeping, loss of self-esteem, weight loss, loss of appetite and change in personality, according to Healthy Children’s website.

   “We have several different options for counseling on campus actually, most of the therapists are going to require payments,” Norman said. “We also have YouthBridge, private therapists, there’s a lot of different people that we can get involved in the situation to help out.”

  It may be a common misconception that to benefit from counseling in school, students must already have a diagnosis, but having intervention for kids early can be an important step in preventing mental health issues late, even without a diagnosis.

 “It is important, but it’s not important in the areas it needs to be,” said senior Alexis Dawson . “I know someone in my family who has mental health problems, and I know people here too.”

Students in our school are all too aware of the mental health struggles affecting our generation today, and they are in agreement it is an important issue in our society today.

“I think it is a big issue,” said senior Lillian McDaniel. “I think that education should have more of an impact on teaching us how to deal with things because it seems like people are more like positive if that happens.”

 While schools continue to integrate mental health education into curriculum, students can begin by educating themselves, by looking for the signs of possible depression, drug abuse and eating disorders. Anxiety is also a major issue in high schools, and students should not struggle alone. If mental health is an issue that needs to be personally addressed, check with local or school counselors. If someone is considering suicide,visit or call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and guidance.