Sophia H. Iowa

Education is Key

As mental illness sweeps over our nation, it is up to our education system to help adolescents understand and accept mental illness.

Dear Future President,

I’m writing to express my concerns about the lack of education and acceptance with mental health. As you are fully aware, there have been multiple tragedies involving school aged children. The Sandy Hook shooting is just one instance that has happened in the past. I can not help but believe if education on mental illness was provided to all American children in elementary school and continuing through high school that perhaps some of these tragedies could have been avoided. The time for understanding and accepting mental illness is now, as I firmly believe this is the only way to move past the stigma attached to those with a mental health diagnosis.

In my opinion, there have been too many conversations on mental illness without enough follow through. I believe the time for conversations are over, and it is time for action. Mental illness awareness education needs to become a priority in our education system because around 43 million Americans are diagnosed with a mental illness. It is through educating children on respecting mental illness that will create adults who not only respect those with mental illness but do so with compassion. I have personally witnessed the lack of respect for mental illness in my own public school system.

Approximately one year ago, a teacher callously used mental illness as an extra credit point on a test. I firmly believe if this teacher had been educated from early on in respecting mental illness, he never would have used it to garner extra credit points. It is this form of intolerable thinking and belief system which we must as a nation stop through education.

I’m asking you Mr./Madam President to please make mental health education one of your top priorities in your administration. I also ask that you use today's youth to assist you in this matter as not only are these the future adults, but they also suffer the consequences of lack of understanding of mental illness. I am offering you my personal assistance in organizing a task force in developing an educational program to encourage today’s youth in not only accepting but also understanding mental illness. Thank you for taking the time to listen to my concerns and thoughts on the mental health crisis in America.


Sophia E. Hackbarth 

Okoboji High School

OHS College Comp I

A group of juniors and seniors at Okoboji High School in Northwest Iowa

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