Mental health is a pressing issue in schools. While only 3.2% of children aged 3-17 years (approximately 1.9 million) have diagnosed depression, many students believe that they do. I suppose that these students suffer just because they don’t have the proper skills to deal with the stressful school environment, socially and academically. In the recent college scandal, many of the accused defend themselves by saying that they had to bribe people to help their distressed children struggling with the stress of school. But how do you deal with stress, anxiety, and depression if you can’t afford to pay your way into college?
Our school has taken steps to help students deal with this stressful environment. We have formed a partnership with Stanford and its Challenge Success program. Through this program, students took a survey that gave anonymous data to Stanford. Stanford analyzed the data and advised our school on how to resolve issues students raised. LBHS faculty acted on this information in a few ways, including the implementation of a later start time.
“We supported the district’s calendar change and a later start time to the bell schedule. We believe that this will benefit students’ mental health by allowing more time to sleep,” said Piper Warner, who, along with her father, has traveled twice to Stanford University to be involved in the partnership between LBHS and Challenge Success.
It is relevant to acknowledge that our school also has a substantial number of faculty dedicated to students’ mental health. We have far more staff directed towards mental health than our surrounding schools. Students can meet with these staff members and work out social and academic issues.
“I was dealing with social issues between friends, and it all came to the surface during finals last semester. Mrs. Aronson helped me solve my groups’ issues, and she gave me valuable skills to deal with stress,” said a student who wished to be kept anonymous.
Unfortunately, many students don’t take the initiative on their own to talk with faculty. Teachers are allowed to recommend students to faculty that they believe need help. And while it is not mandatory for students to meet with faculty, many take the opportunity to do so. Some teachers believe that smaller classes solve this issue because teachers can form more personal connections with students.
“Our school has been working hard to make sure all students feel safe and welcomed. I have talked with other districts about mental health, and our district is one of the most well-equipped when it comes to mental health among students. We have also discussed redesigning the office to protect the privacy of students while meeting with their counselors and other staff members,” said an anonymous teacher.
I believe that student-driven groups are the best way to help their fellow peers. Many of the mental health issues students deal with are a result of social problems. If student groups made sure that everyone felt they had a place, the social aspect of mental health issues could be resolved. The stress aspect of education is a much deeper issue that requires drastic changes in our education system. Solving this issue will take much longer than a week, but in the meantime, we can solve our mental health issues caused by social tensions in and outside of school.