Education's Effect on Mental Health in Students
In December, Mishawaka High School staff took part in specialized training through Beacon Health called “QPR Training”. This program is a nationally-recognized program that teaches participants to recognize the warning signs, clues, and communications of people contemplating suicide and to act to prevent a tragedy. Along with this, there was a mandatory staff meeting focusing on suicide ideation and prevention. As a result, the training has stirred up some thoughts and questions among the student body about mental health.
Indiana has been taking a more direct approach to mental health recently. In previous years they showed MHS staff an assortment of videos, amount the long string of clips there was a single video covering suicide.
“This year they did it more directly,” said Jessica Mann, MHS sophomore administrator.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists did a study July of 2017 (reaffirmed 2019) and found that at least one in five youth aged 9-17 currently has a diagnosable mental health disorder that causes some degree of impairment; one in 10 has a disorder that causes significant impairment. While nearly 80% of those children don’t get help.The Department of Health of Human Services said that depression is the most prominent mental illness in American youth (and young adults), affecting one in eight.
“I’ve been struggling with my mental health all during middle school, but when I got to high school it was all bumped up.” said one MHS freshman, their name removed for privacy.
With the pressure on students grow as they move up through the grades, the more it affects their mental health.
“My parents expectations increased, so now all this pressure is on me.” said the student.
“If you’re like me, and have all honors classes they expect you to know everything, and don’t give you much help along the way. That’s a lot of pressure, to know everything.” the student stated.
Students are at school for six to seven hours a day, spending the majority of their daily waking hours in the school building. Because of this, school staff are the people most exposed to students’ behavior. This is why training, such as QPR, is critical and why guidance counselors and trained staff are so vital to students' health.
“Local schools can feel isolated, and sometimes parents feel lost,” Mann said, “So, I think we’re very lucky to have these resources.”
There is a procedure that counselors or staff follow when faced with a student focused on self harm. If a student confronts a teacher about mental health or more serious issues they are trained to tell the counselor who handles it, or call the Department of Child Services (DCS) in more serious circumstances, since every adult in Indiana is a mandated reporter.
“We have a crisis prevention manual.” Mann said.
Mishawaka is actively trying to raise awareness of mental health safety by doing numerous things. One example of this is how the guidance counselors give out two cards. One that informs students what buildings to go to if they are in danger, buildings with a yellow sign that say “Safe Place”. These buildings facilities provide a secure environment with trained staff, for anyone that is in danger from someone else or themselves. The second card acts as a lifeline for the student. It has a yellow ribbon on it. If you give this card to any staff member, they should be trained on how to handle it. Use this card when you are in danger or if you need help. You can pick these cards up from your counselors office.
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in ages 15-24, so it is important to remember that when you or someone you know is in a time of distress, one of the most important things to do is to remove yourself or the other person from any danger, and contact someone that can fully handle the situation.
“I want kids to know there are tons of people who care about them,” said Mann, “It’s not something that they have to go through alone, and it’s not something I would ever discipline students for.”
You are never alone, someone is on your side and wants to help you, so don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask.
National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Crisis Text Line: Text Hello to 741741
24 Hour Hotline (Anonymous): 232-344
Self- Injury Hotline: 1-800-DONT-CUT