An Unspoken Issue; Mental Health in Education

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By Swetha Sukumar

Posted on June 7, 2024


4 min read

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Mental Health in Education

“A child’s mental health is just as important as their physical health and deserves the same quality of support” – These words of Kate Middleton are very important in today’s era. A person’s mental health is just as important as physical health. But mental health has long been a topic surrounded by stigma and misconceptions. 

Nowadays, mental health problems are not only seen in teenagers but in younger children from the small classes. Nourishing children’s minds is as essential as their health. Schools are quick to learn about health problems affecting youngsters. Similar awareness activities on the value of physical health are frequently held, with an emphasis on sports, nutrition, and hygiene. However, mental health problems are significantly less likely to be addressed in schools, even though children are just as likely to experience psychological suffering as physical health issues.

Why is Mental Health Neglected in Education?

Students of all ages face not only academic pressures, but also social, personal, and societal pressures. The current mental health crisis is taking a toll on the physical and mental health of students. While physical ailments usually have a visible side, mental health problems are often hidden. So nurturing children’s minds is as essential as their health. Whether parents at home or teachers at school, children’s mental health is often neglected. Moreover, it is imperative that teachers and parents recognize how mental health in children affects their academic performance and personal life. 

Mental Health Issues in K-12 Students 

Changing living conditions are creating mental health problems not only in teenagers today. In recent years, experts have determined that mental health problems among K-12 students have risen. There are various reasons why the rates of mental health problems among students are increasing. These include increased public awareness of mental health disorder, social issues related to mental health (such as child abuse and neglect and domestic violence), being overly busy and sleep-deprived, and facing more stress at school. 

Academic-related stress is particularly acute even among students with relatively healthy home lives. In today’s competitive world, parents put pressure on their children to be ahead of other children and excel in academics and extracurriculars. Therefore, even in young children, such pressures create huge psychological problems. 

It’s vital to remember that mental health disorders can affect any child, regardless of age, race, or socioeconomic background. These students require sufficient support at school. Without support, their symptoms and academic performance may worsen, increasing the risk of abandonment and committing suicide.

COVID-19 has Played a Vital Role in Students’ Mental Health

Another factor that has worsened mental health among students is the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has brought a lot of instability and uncertainty to many students. The home environment, stress and lack of resources parents experienced during the pandemic distracted them from caring for the mental health of their children and adolescents. 

Typically, if a student is experiencing mental health issues or an unstable home situation, teachers, administrators, counsellors, and social workers will step in and try to resolve the issues. But the non-availability of their services during the pandemic period led to a bigger problem.

How to Support Students Facing Mental Health Issues?

To help students experiencing the mental health crises, schools need to have access to effective support.  Schools need to prioritize wellness for students and counsellors. Therefore the service of a student counsellor or psychologist is mandatory in all educational institutions to maintain the mental health of a student. Students need to be able to share all their problems and concerns with them in a very healthy way. 

There should also be opportunities for elementary, middle, and high school children, families, and educators to learn more about mental health so that they can spot symptoms and decrease the stigma associated with getting treatment. This allows children and teachers to obtain the necessary assistance, decrease stigma, and seek help as soon as possible.

To help children experiencing mental health issues, schools must have access to competent support. Teaching children about mental health issues and how to cope with them encourages them to speak up and seek help when they are struggling and unclear what to do. They need someone they can trust, who understands their challenges and will get them the assistance they require because they are too young to do it themselves. It is imperative that all education institutions provide robust and holistic wellness support to students, at the right time, before mental health issues become an epidemic in itself.