Dear Future President,
As a high school senior, I have witnessed many friends and classmates struggle with mental health issues. I’ve had close school friends who have suffered from depression, friends who have struggled with anxiety, and friends who were suicidal. It was so hard to watch such precious children crumble because of poor mental health. Seeing this happen, and knowing it was happening to people who didn’t deserve it, really made me start to think about how important school-based mental health services are. School-based mental health services should be a fundamental part of the American school system, as they are crucial to creating safe schools, key to effectively addressing the scope of students’ needs, and will result in mentally healthy children who will have a greater chance of success in school and life.
School-based mental health services are crucial to creating safe schools. Having mental health services in schools can improve the physical and psychological safety of students, as it will create an environment in which the students can form an encouraging relationship with the school staff and will feel safe enough to report safety concerns.
In addition to the safety of the students, providing mental health services in schools is key to effectively addressing the scope of students’ needs. Good mental health is not only the absence of mental illnesses, but is also social, emotional, and behavioral health and the ability to handle life’s challenges. Empowering schools to propagate mental wellness will allow for the schools to confront problems before they worsen or become chronic. Unfortunately, because these services require mental health professionals for adequate results, funding may become an issue for many schools.
It has been confirmed that mentally healthy children are more successful in school and life. A private school, McLean, in Maryland, has teachers work closely with on-site mental health professionals. This allows for the teachers to be able to help students reach their potential. “We’ve had students that come to McLean in third, fourth, fifth grade that basically have been told by educators that they will not be able to graduate from high school and that they are not capable of going to a college,” Frankie Engelking, McLean’s director of student and community wellness, said. “Those exact students come to us, are very successful academically, grow emotionally, build confidence, graduate from McLean, go on to four-year programs, and have very meaningful lives and careers.” Further research shows that students who are provided with mental health services show improvement in classroom behavior, on-task learning, academics, and overall welfare.
If child mental health issues are left unattended for too long, they may result in negative outcomes such as increases in behavioral problems, chronic mental illnesses, dropouts, and crime. Implementing mental health services in the American school system could ensure a healthier future for this country.
The Importance of School-Based Mental Health Services – NEA Healthy Futures. (2016, May
16). Retrieved from http://neahealthyfutures.org/importance-school-based-mental-health-services/
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