Brrring! The alarm on my phone shook the entire bed while blaring that dreadful ringing to signal the time for my first class of the day. My mind is in a haze as I reach for the alarm. I gazed across my room to the laptop on my desk where I seemed to spend ninety-percent of my life now. Locked onto the position of the item, I ask myself, “What is the point anyways?” A situation that has somewhat become routine to this endless cycle. I rolled around, facing away from the perturbing site, drifting back to darkness.
A common scenario to many students under this virtual school system. One that has managed to drain the motivation and liveness. Students become diverged and integrated to this mindset of lost motivation not only in their academic life, but can be applied to general life. According to data from a special report by EducationWeek, 64% of high school students who were in complete remote learning had “at least one adult at school to talk to” when “feeling upset, stressed, or having problems.” This is 20% lower than students back in regular in-person learning. As students are increasingly having these feelings of loneliness, discouragement, and stress, the higher rates of those with anxiety, depression, and other various mental disorders.
Well, how exactly are the school systems responsible for this occurrence? Schools offer ample amounts of resources to help students that are struggling with their mental health, such as counseling, clubs and meetings, social workers, and a place to reach people to talk to. However, it seems to be unprioritized in many schools still.
To understand this, I had created a Google Form regarding technology and mental health geared to students, faculty and staff. I had discovered that nearly half of that population are unaware or do not feel comfortable with the school’s mental health resources. This is an ongoing survey at https://forms.gle/7aKrvTDHA6JiiPXt7. This form is completely anonymous, however, understanding and re-evaluating yourself is crucial to isolating an issue, especially mental health.
In my personal experience as a student, I am completely unaware of the resources at my school regarding mental health. I am aware of the internships, scholarships, and events that my school offers moreover. This is a serious issue the school system needs to address immediately. It has become increasingly conserving with the idea that Generation Z are more concerned about their mental health. According to the American Psychological Association, Generation Z is the least likely to report very good or excellent mental health, especially on certain global issues and school.
I believe school systems must take more consideration into this proven statistic on the mental health of the majority of its students. Especially in a time for isolation, students are more prone to experiencing anxiety and depression. Schools must provide a sense of guidance and comfort that can both enable and further save the lives of its students.
Well, how exactly can school systems do this? The answer is abundantly clear and simple: make mental health a priority and more known on campus. The main component to incorporate would be communication of the school to students. Communicating the whereabouts of these resources for mental health and making it routine for students to complete surveys or express their situation and health to teachers. This is crucial in both allowing the school to understand those who are struggling with their mental health and to express a concern about these issues.
There are three other principals that I would integrate into the school system related to resources for mental health:
The first principal would be that staff and faculty in schools should be trained in understanding the symptoms of a mental disorder. They should be able to acknowledge and process what to do if a student raises a concern. Rather than relying on one or two professionals, counselors, or social worker, all staff and faculty should have some sort of preparation in dealing with students. This allows for a more developed way in distinguishing a mental disorder or any issue and a greater extension of people to reach out to in the school for students.
The second principal would be to have a single wellness center on a school campus. A center where students are able to interact, discuss, and situate their concerns. This would also serve as a stress-free zone that hosts certain enjoyable bonding activities and events that further allows students to understand and protect themselves. For example, one event that could be hosted are media literacy classes. These would allow students to understand how the media works, including learning how to distinguish false information and to be cautionary on social media.
The third principal would be to have regular events for parents to attend that permits them to understand the mental health of the youth and what they should do to support them. The relationship between parents and children vary, however, many parents do not recognize the increasing competition in schools and the rigor of certain courses. Children are obligated to their academics, jobs, and many other personal situations. So allowing parents to understand this concept while providing them what sort of support they need is significant to a child.
As a student, we must take into account the importance of prioritizing the mental wellbeing of the younger generation. Even according to the CDC on children’s mental health, about 1 in 6 students had enough behavioral or emotional symptoms and impairment to be diagnosed with a childhood mental disorder based on teacher and parent reports from 2014 to 2018. This virtual school system has only furthered this seemingly consequential addiction to social media and technology, which has proven to not only affect our mental health, but our health in general. The month of May celebrates mental health awareness and presents more voicing its importance rather than taking action in regards to it. So, there must be a higher standard to support students in schools not only in certain ones, but to all. Every student deserves to obtain the proper tools for upholding and caring for their mental health, it should not be considered a privilege to have mental health resources to sustain a student’s life.