A professional therapist on-site during school hours for elementary, middle, & high school

A professional therapist on-site during school hours for elementary, middle, & high school

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Nadya Rao started this petition to U.S Department of Education

Did you know that 1 in 3 adolescents ages 13 to 18 will experience an anxiety disorder? These numbers have been rising steadily, and anxiety disorders in children and teens have gone up by 20%. Anxiety or depressive disorders during adolescence serves as a risk being persistent during early adulthood. Many adolescents wait until adulthood to get help and treat their anxiety issues. But many don’t even get to experience adulthood because they are fighting demons in their head and end their lives before it even begins. It is understandable to an extent how some individuals do not consider mental health disorders such as anxiety, and depression as diseases. Nonetheless, the rate of suicide, drug addiction, and violence increases due to the psychological pain many individuals try to numb. For this reason, preventing disorders such as anxiety, and depression, by providing school therapists at elementary, middle, and high schools will allow future generations to succeed better in life. 

I am currently a senior attending Silver Creek high school and the past 12 years of my education reflect a happy girl who paved her path to anxiety and depression. My parents were not the “touchy-feely” type of people and raised me in an environment where only academics mattered. I never had someone to talk to and friends weren’t an option because they were going through the same thing. I became extremely lonely throughout elementary and middle school even though I had many friends no one understood the real me. In my sophomore year of high school, I got diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Fortunately, my parents are both engineers who acknowledged such disorders and had the money to send me to a psychiatrist. The next two years of my therapy life were letting out the feelings I’ve kept inside for the previous ten years. Instead of worrying about what dress I should wear to prom, I was busy shuddering at the lonely darkness that took over my life in the 6th grade. 

Adults who have faced mental disorders such as depression and anxiety in their adolescence are highly likely to show pervasive psychosocial impairment. According to a study assessed by the psychologist Peter Lewinsohn, Ph.D., of the Oregon Research Institute, 941 men and women for depression and other disorders twice during adolescence and again at age 24. It’s a scar that affects a person throughout their lives. We must help these parents and the future generation by providing help through a therapist at an early age.

Some might advise that schools already provide mental health support through school counselors and/or teachers. It is true that some school staff are extremely concerned about students and will provide as much support as a student needs. Nevertheless, many students are uncomfortable asking for help from the teacher who gave them a D on their “To Kill A Mockingbird” essay because they assume that the teacher hates them, will reflect on them negatively for future grades, or accidentally slip up on their personal problems to other students. Furthermore, these students cannot speak to their counselor because this is the same counselor that recommends them to college, chooses classes, and punishes them for any disrespecting classroom behavior. Both teachers and counselors are viewed as academic figures in the eyes of students. Students worry about academic consequences when reporting to such a figure so we need someone whose job solely is to be a therapist that assesses students’ pasts, helps them with their feelings, and gives them therapeutic help that there’s more to life.

We can start by including a professional therapist on-site during school hours in the budget for all elementary, middle, and high schools across the United States. According to David Satcher, the 16th Surgeon General of the United States “as a society, we assign a high priority to disease prevention and health promotion; so, too, must we ensure that mental health and the prevention of mental disorders share that priority." We must prioritize mental health by helping students as early as they need. This therapist will not have access to the student’s grades, parent contact information, or disclose the information to any other individual under the exception of abuse which must be reported to child protective services. All students will mandatorily meet with the therapist once each year or once each semester. Beyond that, they are free to choose and make more appointments as necessary to them as it is. Therapy for all adolescents is extremely important because it builds positive thoughts and encourages healthy behaviors. Therapists encourage students to find their strengths and do better in life because they have someone rooting for them emotionally. I want these students to graduate high school and reflect upon their education with happiness and pride. With this, I leave the future of the next generation in your hands.

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