Better Mental Health Education in Schools

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We must have better Mental Health education in our schools, particularly in our middle schools and high schools. The CA Department of Education's current standards from 2014 (Health Education Content Standards) simply do not cover enough critical information or the importance of Mental Health awareness. The California State Credentialing Teacher Performance Expectations (adopted in 2016) do some, but not enough to ensure all teachers have the tools and resources available to assist students in need. We must better educate our youth/students on Mental Illness, letting them know if they suffer, to not be silent and that there is help available.

With this past school shooting in Florida we can no longer stand by and wait for change from higher. We cannot constantly be in a reactive state when horrific situations such as a school shooting takes place. I know our schools do various drills to prepare for this potential situation. But, we must do more. We must truly educate our teaching staff in Mental Health awareness and in identifying students with mental illness or the signs of. This is not to point out a kid or make them feel different, it is to get them assistance and the help they need to deal with and cope.

Education and understanding is key. The current curriculum in our schools does nothing but scratch the surface and there simply is not enough information presented to our kids to make them aware and educated. This lesson cannot and must not be a generic section of lesson taught in a P.E. class. Mental Illness is a disease and it is treatable. Young kids and young adults can easily feel like outcasts when dealing with a Mental Illness. With the proper education and with a staff that is encouraging and heartfelt, our youth will feel better about turning to someone for assistance.

Statistical information and data from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

Prevalence of Mental Illness

Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.—43.8 million, or 18.5%—experiences mental illness in a given year.

Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S.—9.8 million, or 4.0%—experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities.

Approximately 1 in 5 youth aged 13–18 (21.4%) experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life. For children aged 8–15, the estimate is 13%.

1.1% of adults in the U.S. live with schizophrenia.

2.6% of adults in the U.S. live with bipolar disorder.

6.9% of adults in the U.S.—16 million—had at least one major depressive episode in the past year.

18.1% of adults in the U.S. experienced an anxiety disorder such as posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and specific phobias.

Among the 20.2 million adults in the U.S. who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5%—10.2 million adults—had a co-occurring mental illness.

Social Stats

An estimated 26% of homeless adults staying in shelters live with serious mental illness and an estimated 46% live with severe mental illness and/or substance use disorders.

Approximately 20% of state prisoners and 21% of local jail prisoners have “a recent history” of a mental health condition.

70% of youth in juvenile justice systems have at least one mental health condition and at least 20% live with a serious mental illness.

Only 41% of adults in the U.S. with a mental health condition received mental health services in the past year. Among adults with a serious mental illness, 62.9% received mental health services in the past year.

Just over half (50.6%) of children aged 8-15 received mental health services in the previous year.

African Americans and Hispanic Americans each use mental health services at about one-half the rate of Caucasian Americans and Asian Americans at about one-third the rate.

Half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14; three-quarters by age 24. Despite effective treatment, there are long delays—sometimes decades—between the first appearance of symptoms and when people get help.

We must be proactive in helping and educating our youth. We cannot wait until the next school shooting! Better education in Mental Health Awareness isn't a complete cure to stop the violence, but it will make a significant impact. We must lead the way in this need. Our federal government cannot be counted on. We must take action in our communities, our towns, and in our schools.

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