Dear future president,
The word "school." Ah yes, when you think of school and education, you think of a build full of students going from class to class, doing their work, then going home. You never stop to think about the kids who chatter during lunch or whisper in the bathrooms all sorts of things. You never stop to think about the children who joke around in class or do random things in the hallway in their free time. You never stop to think about the teenagers who slack off and skip their lessons, who listen to music while cruising down the cafeteria line. Not to mention, you never stop to think about those who sit in the corner of the hall, crying their eyes out, rocking back in forth, trying to stop an anxiety attack. You never stop to think about those who spend most of their time in the counselor's office because their panic attacks are beginning. You never stop to think about those who have to deal with mental illness on a day to day basis while in school. Why is this?
It's no surprise that many teenagers today struggle with mental illnesses. From eating disorders to anxiety to depression to everything on the spectrum, many teenagers have to set aside the inner demons of their minds in order to get school work done first as that's what the education system's main focus is. It's no surprise that not much attention is paid to kids throwing up between lunch and class because of bulimia or kids who break down at their desk because of anxiety but rather to test scores, grades, and attendance.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness - established 1979 - posted a graph of statistics which states that 1 in 5 children (ages 13-18) have, or will have a serious mental illness. Out of my high school of nearly two thousand, that's practically one entire class. This is a serious issue as approximately 50% of students aged 14 or older with a mental illness drop out of high school. These issues that are often shoved aside keep affecting the youth of today, nobody bothers to take a step towards ending it. The ones who are guilty the most? Adults, parents, teachers, principals, the school board. Anyone who has ever told a student that they were overreacting because of an anxiety attack, anyone who has ever told a student that they were being moody because of their bipolar disorder, anyone who has ever doubted a student's mental illness. If you are one of these people, you are a part of the issue.
Enough nagging, that gets a little out of hand when I talk about something I'm passionate about. Onto how we (meaning you, I, schools all over the nation, etc,) can solve this.
To start off, it's best if the school could work with these sorts of things. Perhaps teachers and staff could have a course or training camp on how to handle students during these types of situations, led by a professional. An additional section in the handbook or a tiny written guide to keep at a desk would also be extremely useful, that way if any staff is lost while a student is having troubles with these sorts of things, they can have something to refer back to.
I believe the school board or district should try and come up with something to help these students out. I've been meaning to suggest to my own school district these days called "Mental Health Days." A student, who is on medication for any mental illness or who is seeing a psychologist/therapist/psychiatrist, may request up to 5 non-consecutive days(not consecutively) in a semester (splitting the school year into two here,) to take a day off or a mental health day to keep themselves on track. They must receive written permission from the school and their doctor to take a single day off out of the week and must have the permission slip turned in within 72 hours notice of the day they'd like to take off. It sounds slightly complicated, but I would honestly believe it's a system that may work and cannot be abused.
There's genuinely a multitude of things we could do to help resolve this issue. It's been affecting students and their social lives, grades, test scores, and it's time for it to stop. The amounts of tests and quizzes I could've aced if my anxiety wasn't in my way, if I wasn't having a random episode of depression, if I just perhaps wasn't distracted by my own brain, maybe I could have passed them.
As a student, I've got to admit that there's an issue, it's our own brains. It's time we pay attention to it.