A new trend in education is the rapid increase in the focus on the mental health of students. The state of Oregon has already passed a bill that provides students with five mental health days per school year. The state of Utah and schools in Montgomery County, Virginia have also implemented policies whereby students are granted time off to promote improved mental health. In July 2019, Florida's Board of Education unanimously approved a policy that requires schools to offer at least five hours per school year of mental health instruction for students in grades 6 through 12. Florida has also introduced Florida HB 315 for its 2020 legislative session, which, if approved, would grant students one mental health day per semester.
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), one in five adolescents has had a serious mental health disorder, such as depression and/or anxiety disorders, at some point in their life. HHS goes on to state that half of all mental health problems begin by age 14. For adolescents dealing with mental health issues, HHS believes that early intervention and proper treatment can minimize the adverse effect on their lives.
As a parent, you should watch for the following warning signals, as they may be an indication that your child suffers from a mental health disorder:
- A noticeable increase in anger and aggression;
- A noticeable increase in anxiety and worrying;
- A noticeable increase in your child isolating themself from friends and social activities;
- A sudden and noticeable decline in academic grades/performance;
- A noticeable change in your child’s eating habits; such as eating much less/more than usual;
- A sudden and noticeable loss of self-esteem/self-confidence;
- A noticeable trend of mood swings.
The deterioration in the mental health of adolescents has been the driving force behind the sudden increase in the number of schools that have implemented, or are planning to implement, policies and programs focused on improving student mental health. IVLA shares this commitment to promoting mental health awareness, so we encourage parents to constantly monitor their child’s behavior for any sign of a potential mental health issue. Should you sense something wrong with your child, please seek appropriate professional help immediately.
Over the years, the subject of mental health continues to become increasing destigmatized. Given its widespread prevalence, particularly in adolescents, it's imperative that we continue to break down the barriers that prevent our communities from having open conversations about the subject.
We are extremely proud of our IVLA students. Not only for their academic accomplishments, but for their willingness to openly share their unique life experiences. The article written below comes from our very own 10th grade IVLA student, Isabella Hanson. Isabella was recently one of the first IVLA students inducted to the National Honor Society. We are honored to have Isabella as a student of our institution and commend her for sharing her experiences growing up with depression. Isabella's openness about the subject is exactly what's needed to help spread awareness about mental health disorders, especially as it applies to students in adolescence.
According to Children’s Mind Institute there are 74.5 million children in the United States of America; out of all those children 17.1 million have a mental disorder. Children all over the world are living with mental illness, and I am one of those kids. I’ve lived with mental health struggles since I was eight years old. I deal with mental health issues every day and sometimes it can get hard to keep going.
Sometimes with mental health it’s hard to keep yourself on track and positive. I have felt so many times that feeling of not wanting to get up and work and it has definitely affected my work ethic in school. It seems silly that depression or any mental illness could make you want to not get out of bed, but that’s how mental illness works sometimes. Mental illness can tear away at your will to get out of bed and get started, but I have learned that I am not alone and have met so many people who have helped me take back my life.
Over the years I have found so many resources from therapy support groups that have helped me greatly in school and being able to be a better me. My therapists, Phil and Sarah, and Hunterdon Health have taught me how to cope with my mental health and be able to live a healthy lifestyle.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I have had to more than once reach out to my teachers, parents, or a trusted adult. Your family, friends, and teachers are here for you and want you to be safe and happy so don’t be afraid to get help.
- Take your time and focus on your health. Mental wellness will overall help you in school and help you keep on track. If you need, take a deep breath and give yourself the time to focus on you so you can improve yourself.
- Take care of yourself, by remembering to sleep, eat, and communicate with your loved ones.
- Keep yourself organized so you can stay on top of your schoolwork. Maintain a calendar, notebook, or whiteboard with assignments you need to get done.
All of these tips have helped me go through my school successfully while being able to keep myself safe and happy. With the help of my therapists and so many others I have used these skills to help change my life.
Growing up and struggling with mental health issues has made me realize I want to be a psychologist when I graduate from IVLA. I have a passion for helping others and I want to help people live their life despite mental illness. Everyone who struggles with mental illness is truly brave. Always remember that you are loved and worth it. No matter how hard life may get never give up. I’ve learned over the years that no matter how many times the world knocks you down, know that there are a million people who will help you get back up. If you need help reach out to a trusted adult or call the suicide hotline 1-800-273-8255. You are loved and worth the fight, stay strong.
- Sarah Prego, Psychologist https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/data.html , https://childmind.org/2015-childrens-mental-health-report/,
- Hunterdon behavioral health, https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/