Urge LAUSD to Mandate Mental Health Course for Students & Awareness Training for Staff
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Today, American culture behind education has a strong emphasis on standardized tests and the curriculum is increasing in rigor. As the academic standard for high school students becomes more demanding, many students develop mental illness such as anxiety and depression. As they continue through their education, the additional pressure and stress of needing to be on top has led to an increase of students with mental illnesses. This is a possible factor for the development of chronic stress due to the fact that many students spend more of their waking hours at school than they do at home. Students have transitioned to a school driven lifestyle that encompases the pressure to succeed and continue secondary schooling. In addition, many students do not know what mental health is and therefore, are unaware of the triggers and solutions to healthily handling it.
Stress from school is inevitable. As the amount of stress put onto the individual and school have increasingly demanding, there has not been a corresponding increase in services provided for the distressed students. This applies to students who have diagnosed mental illness as well as those students who have periodic emotional crises. Students in these situations need a trained professional to talk to. The lack of resources provided by schools puts an added burden not only to the individual, but to the school as well.
In order to address the growing issue of mental decline in students, legislated education and awareness on mental illness is necessary for school faculty and students. Los Angeles Unified School District should create a policy that will include the following:
(1) Provide comprehensive staff training for school and community service personnel working in school to recognize mental distress. Schools will not be able to service students if the staff can not identify the symptoms.
(2) Provide comprehensive school-based mental health programs carried out by qualified mental and behavioral professionals that are licensed by the State
(3) Incorporate a Health Course in the California A-G High School Graduation Requirement that encompases Mental Health
As the number of students with mental health illnesses continues to increase, the number of available resources should be increasing, at the same rate, and becoming more available. In today’s society, mental health is still seen as a taboo subject, therefore leading many communities to not talk about it. Especially in the communities with lower socioeconomic backgrounds, the subject of mental health is rare and never brought up. “For historical and cultural reasons, mental illness has persistently been stigmatized in our society. This stigma is manifested by bias, distrust, stereotyping, fear, embarrassment, anger, and/or avoidance" (Promoting Mental Health in Middle Level and High Schools, 2016). These lower class communities are mainly populated by African American and Hispanic American members, this is more of a reason for the integration to be held and available. One very impactful effect to young adults being unaware of mental illness, is preventing the development of a more serious disease like addiction. Many young adults often times do not know how to deal with their issues, resulting in them trying to find other outlets like drugs and alcohol to relieve their stress. “Approximately 25–50% of young people who abused drugs have been diagnosed with Conduct Disorder or Oppositional Defiant Disorder, 20–30% have been diagnosed with clinical depression and 16% with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” (Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse, 2013). This eventually leads many young people to continue this routine into their adulthood and to develop potential addictions to certain drugs creating a higher chance to being incarcerated or homeless. “Los Angeles jails – not its hospitals – are California’s largest providers of mental health care.”
Through the reduction of students with mental illnesses, schools will be able to positively change lives by helping young adults learn how to be mentally healthy and reducing the number of students who drop out.
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