Joyce T. California

The Mental and Emotional Health of Young People

Are students failing the system? Or is the system failing our students? What would happen if we salvaged what is left of a "happy" student? Or even, how can we salvage the young leaders of today?

Dear Future President,

Let me get straight to the point, why is it that not all children receive the same education? Why do we insist that mental and emotional help does not matter more than a grade on a report card? Why do I, as a student, believe that my grades matter more than my own sanity? Please enlighten me on the corruption of school districts across the nation; if you even dare to care at all.

The problem in this day and age, is that students believe that their mental health is no match for their schoolwork in terms. Growing up in your typical, low-income, Filipino household, I was never allowed to fail. And as a result, my grades transcended to the gods while my own mental health deteriorated. However, I was lucky enough to not fall into the trap of eternal depression- I got help. Unfortunately, many other teens have felt the same way as I, but have failed to get help themselves. According to the National Association of Mental Illness, about 50% of students aged 14+ with a mental health condition drop out of school. And, in terms of long term effect, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in people aged 15-24. As sad as it is, this is the reality we live in, this is the reality we live everyday. Only about 5% of students who have some sort of mental health issue decide to get help. That’s 1 in 20 students. In your average LAUSD setting, that's at least 2 kids in every classroom.

You say that we are not the future leaders, but the leaders of today, but should we no longer exist, to whom do we then put the weight of the world on? I believe that it’s time to take action on this avalanche of a mentality. Over the years, this stigma has gained more and more steam; eventually, stopping it won’t even be an option anymore. In my community, I see my peers longing and striving to be the best, and when they get there, they are never satisfied because that drive is no longer there and they no longer have the energy to keep going. My peers often feel conflicted with what they need versus what they want and unfortunately, it’s no longer about what they want but what they believe they need. It’s sad to see all of this potential waster simply because of this pressure to be great. Maybe this time around we’ll teach our kids to be happy and satisfied with their very best and not scold them for “not trying hard enough.”


Joyce T.