Let's make mental health as important as math

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My name is Katie Jankoski, I’m 17 and currently finishing my last year of school at Warman High School. In my lifetime, I have seen a conversation go from excusing mental illness for adolescent behaviors to being taken seriously as a problem that an attitude change can’t fix. Although it’s great to see more positive light being shed on such complex issues, actions speak louder than words.

In Canada, we spend approximately 5700 hours in class from grade six through to high school graduation. We spend most of our young lives in classrooms listening to adults talk about important skills we must learn to excel later in life. So why isn’t ensuring our own brain is healthy, a regular and important one of them?

Young people, ages 15-24, are more likely to experience mental illness or substance abuse issues more than any other group. This happens in years where we have access to these kids everyday. imagine how different statistics could be if we just reevaluated how we spend those 5700 hours.

Knowing the definition of depression or how to identify stressors in your life are useless if you don’t know what to do with that information. Students presenting basic facts about mental illnesses to peers in grade nine, did not help the 16 year old girl when she stared at a bottle of pills, wondering what would really happen.

Currently Canada youth suicide rate is the third highest in the industrialized world. These devastating statistics are at an all time high and are not seeming to get any lower.

Our youth need change now. This is a matter of before it’s too late.

We need schools to be equipped to handle mental illness crisis’. This means training for all teachers if students come to them with mental health questions because students don’t always have an adult to guide them in a positive direction at home.

We need a mandatory class that is in depth, personal, and accommodating education about coping, local resources and those tough to ask questions.

We need this information to be adapted and updated annually to support the new advances and new resources that are available.

We need to change, I needed this change and we could all still benefit from it. This is something we need to know our children won’t go without. There is no silver bullet, but there is so much we can do to prevent our family, friends, and future children from being part of a statistic.