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Articles > Mental Health May, 30, 2018

Your School Doesn’t Care About Your Mental Health

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In today’s society, mental health is becoming a more openly talked about issue and is much less taboo than it was 20 years ago. Even though society is becoming more accepting of the presence of mental health issues in young teens, schools are seen trying to dismiss these issues at every other turn.

schools aren't helping students with mental health issues

Schools need to stop turning a blind eye to mental health issues…

“Teenage drama” is a term that is constantly thrown around by teachers who are trying to cast out every shadow of a doubt that mental health problems could exist inside the minds of their own pupils. Schools refuse to recognise that in certain cases, they are actually the problem. I sometimes question whether schools are being properly educated on what mental health issues look like in  young people.

Depression is not a sad face and tears in class. Depression is an empty chair because pupils dread the very thought of having to face the world in the morning and so will do anything to avoid it.

Anxiety is not a pupil getting nervous in front of the class when they have to read a speech. Anxiety is a pupil going hungry at lunch because they cannot physically bear to order food in the lunch line.

Stress is not a throwaway line by a pupil like “I have hockey and home economics today, I’m so stressed.” Stress is a pupil’s hair falling out when two essays, worth half of their overall grade, are due for the same day.

Being bullied by your peers is not always like in the movies where you get your books thrown on the ground and your head shoved in a toilet. No. This exclusion is much more secretive: it’s whispers and rumours in the air, it’s not having anyone to sit with at lunch, it’s the feeling of slowly being cast out and  not being able to do anything about it.

Schools do not understand any of this. What is the point of having pastoral care systems in place if teachers cannot understand the signs and won’t refer pupils to get the help they so desperately need? They only need to watch ’13 Reasons Why’ to see what can happen when schools don’t intervene.

We are told as pupils that “our grades do not define us” but that is the biggest lie I have ever been told. My grades define my career, my future and how I am treated in school. Any pupil seen to be struggling will get an intervention. The intentions of this are pure, a talk to understand why the pupil is struggling and to see if the school can help. This kind of intervention however, is only given to pupils who are seen to be struggling. How can you, with straight A’s explain to a teacher, who only sees you for 3 or 4 hours a week, every single thing you are feeling? How can you explain that you cannot motivate yourself to get out of bed in the morning because the idea of your future terrifies you so much that it causes you to have panic attacks? That the uncertainty of tests and grades, which will decide who you can be in life, keep you awake all night leaving you too physically exhausted to come into school?

In an article by the Telegraph, Peter Tait, a former headmaster states “While progress has been made, a few schools appear to care more about academic results than the well-being of pupils,” and I couldn’t agree more.

Schools need to desperately undergo changes in their attitude towards mental health and attend briefings and staff training days from mental health boards and societies to show teachers effective ways to help students. I know this is a far stretch, schools are too busy with exams and tests to stop for a second and look at the girl who might be getting all A’s but her smile is broken. It only takes a second look to recognise it. A second look that may never happen.

 

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  1. Emi

    All schools have bullying and children with mental health, however its how they treat and help them with it. Within my school they have many pastoral systems yet they push the students to the side.. Students deserve a role model who will be there for them during school times, as they might not have it during their home life.

  2. Abbey

    I think that some schools know there is bullying going on but they don’t take the time to stop it. In elementary school everyone is told that bullying is bad and that we shouldn’t bully others but that stops the second we go to middle school. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression and I couldn’t agree more with this article. Currently I’m sitting in bed crying instead of going to school because my teachers don’t care about how I feel. I have one teacher in particular who everyday tells me I need to find a different way to school because I’m always late but he doesn’t ask why I’m late. There are many things wrong with the school system in the United States but I think that mental health should have a priority in our schools.

  3. Jessie

    I think…my school knew that I was hurting myself so, they told my mom and put me in a group with other depressed kids. That did nothing and I got worse. The next year, they never asked me how I was, just put me back into a group for kids who “worry a lot” WE LITERALLY EAT CHIPS AMD COMPLAIN THERE IS NO CARE PUT IN FOR US AND MY FRIEND TRIED TO KILL HERSELF AND WHAT HAS THE SCHOOL DONE FOR HER??? ABSOLOUTLEY NOTHING. The counselors are deaf. “Dead Kids are put up on a pedestal but mentally ill kids are sweat under the rug” -Neil Shusterman, Challenger Deep

  4. Emily

    I completely agree with this article. I believe that schools have a lot of work to do in regards to bullying and mental health. I have found that in some schools even a student requesting to see a counsellor seems to be a low priority.

    For my second year A level Drama exam, my group created a piece based on bullying. Throughout our devising progress we did extensive research into statistics and news articles that related to bullying. After reading many newspaper articles on young children committing suicide after being bullied, the majority of parents felt like the school did not intervene or deal with the bullying in an effective way.

    Although schools have policies that state they do not tolerate bullying, and senior members of staff who carry out safeguarding, I feel that this is simply not enough.

    If we made it compulsory for teachers to go on mental health courses, perhaps they would recognise the more subtle signs of depression and anxiety etc.. Perhaps if we also educated the students on mental health, making them aware of what they may be feeling, allowing them to possibly feel comfortable enough to confide in a teacher who truly knows how to deal with it.

    Maybe then students wouldn’t feel pushed to the point of suicide.

  5. Jack

    There is barely any cited evidence or statistics in this article to back up your statement that “Your School Doesn’t Care About Your Mental Health”. This is merely an uninformative rant about a current hot topic. Please consider the effects of stirring the pot before you stick the spoon in and maybe offer a solution to the issue you’ve discussed.

  6. SweetSerenity

    Schools spend far too long focusing on students who have no desire to learn as opposed to those who want to do well yet encounter difficulties. It’s tragic that people who have the drive and capacity to succeed are lost within an often unfeeling and consistently overstretched system through no fault of their own.

    That being said, I don’t feel as the issue is any better at university (or at the very least the provision of help varies depending on which institution you attend). I attend a certain, very well-known and very prestigious university that constantly occupies a place at the top of the league tables. It’s a exceptionally high-pressure environment and I frequently feel as though the university cares more about reputation than the actual wellbeing of its students. Students who encounter difficulties are often just pushed aside, being placed on “intermission” (what is in effect a medical suspension) regardless of whether the decision is right for that particular student (or whether the student has received the necessary reasonable adjustments and support to succeed). It’s an absolute travesty given that the university, in its nature, attracts students who are vulnerable to disorders such anxiety due to their sheer desire to be the best as well as the competitiveness of the institution itself.

  7. ELLE LOREN ROSS

    I totally agree with you on this one! I suffered with severe mental health and was really badly bullied for years and both my school and sixth form did nothing until there was attempts of suicide! Its disgraceful like why should a child be allowed to be bullied this way and suffer a consequence they dont deserve and have nothing done about it! My younger sister has recently been bullied and its took my mam to go in 5 times in 2 weeks for them to do something

  8. Bernadette

    I struggled with mental health in school and got no support what so ever. It’s hard to cope with no support and they expect you to just get in with it

  9. chondaturp

    I think schools should do something so students have enough sleep.