Advocates in Hawaii are pushing for mental health screenings in their schools according to Hawaii News Now. They believe that the early screenings in the youth would provide much needed help particularly in regards to the growing mass shootings. Their belief includes the screenings which will reduce the amount of school shootings. Paul Gionfriddo, president of Mental Health America iterates that half of all lifetime mental illnesses are diagnosed by the age of 14.
…is to find the best way to educate our schools about mental health.
My experience with therapy at school
When I was in elementary school, I had to go to speech therapy. This may not have been mental health therapy I was taking, although both therapies require the student to leave his/her regular classroom and go to a tiny room normally one-on-one with the teacher. My speech teacher would come to my classroom and quietly give a nod to my teacher. Then my teacher would come by and touch my shoulder notifying me that it was time for speech.
Leaving the regular classroom a couple times during the week was horrifying. I felt as if I were being called out and the whole classroom stared through my body as I walked out the door. They knew that I had a speech impediment and loved to tease me about it. In my embarrassment, I shrunk down to the size of the “Incredible Shrinking Man”. In my newly found size, I could hear my classroom snicker and all-out laugh while I walked down the hall. I was mortified.
How can we help the schools’ unknown mental illness population?
I need my own Wikipedia section in order to answer that question adequately enough! In all seriousness, the school shootings are skyrocketing out of control. What we need to do is to educate every person in our schools as well as the parents. This way people are given the knowledge of mental health, without the mentally ill student receiving unwanted attention to be showered on him or her.
Educating students on how to chart their moods, sleep patterns, any food changes, and specific behaviors, is a great way to see patterns, cycles and any problems as a result of their inner state of mind.
Schools should set up a more private way to have their medicine dispensed to students. I have seen the plastic box of student medicines pulled out in front of the entire office staff, guests, teachers, custodians, you name it. All of this going on with long lines of students passing in front of the office windows for lunch.
How will mental health screenings effect our students?
- This will develop stigma, embarrassment and withdrawal in our students. For instance, a student has mental illness in their family. They are aware of the stigma their relative experiences. They cringe at the thought of being treated that way. Do you think that student will willingly raise their hand to volunteer to go first in the screenings? This student will fight against the screening.
- Many students in upper elementary, middle and high schools are late bloomers in the maturity category. The student might be pegged as someone with a mental illness. This is not true. He is merely immature, bitter and frustrated for being singled out as someone with a mental illness. The student will become roofless in their cruelty towards other students who do have mental health issues.
- As a middle school teacher of eight years, I saw my fair share of students lining up at the school clerk’s desk in order to take a pill at lunch. That pill could be a Tylenol or Adderall. The student looking for fresh meat will be merciless in their taunts and intimidations on the “psycho”.
- The students, whether known to be mentally ill or not yet are not the problem! Parents, where are you in this equation? Have you noticed your daughter appearing darker and darker and more depressed each day? Maybe your grandson is staying up later at night, getting up earlier with lots of energy to burn. And by the way, he used to sleep in. Well, have you, the parent, taken your child to see a doctor? PARENTS must be more involved and present in their child’s social, educational and mental/medical life!
I would love to hear your comments. Please do not say just “agree” or “disagree”. There will be no buzzing of our brains if we do not respond to each other. I eagerly wait to hear from you guys.