Solutions to the Mental Health Denial at School
Backing up on what motivated me to write this piece, more and more people are emerging with “mental illness” diagnoses, often characterized by “addiction”. Some studies indicate that 90 percent of the reported increases in mental illness prevalence over the past two decades are associated with “adverse childhood experiences” or both psychological and physical ones. Many can’t afford medication.
Individuals living with the various forms of mental illness aren’t the only ones being left behind. Schools are also battling this issue.
Mental illness has now surpassed cancer as the most stigmatized illness in the U.S., but the focus remains on those battling cancer rather than those facing mental health problems and their families.
While the American Psychological Association (APA) published the 8th Annual Past Abuse and Sexual Abuse Study last year that found some greater advancements when it comes to sexual abuse, research shows the change is not nearly as drastic as it should be. It finds that a majority of the age and gender groups have never participated in an attempt to fully understand its prevalence or the road to recovery.
This kind of illiteracy has resulted in the bottom-line reality that “just because you’re diagnosed doesn’t mean you’re getting better.” Not just because you can access a treatment service, but because research shows it is 100 percent possible to effectively treat mental illness at every stage of its spectrum.
Children and teens with mental health issues are, by and large, fairly uncommon, and thus, they are not factored into the diagnostic process or the care model. However, one day a child may make it all the way to become successful and successful in school and for those who do find help, it helps them to become successful by being able to address the complications of mental illness with clinical expertise. This is the point where schools that house these individuals can play a key role, but first they need to look at this entire population holistically rather than just focus on individuals with “mental illness” diagnoses.
While addressing the issue of mental illness in schools is complex, there are no other sectors as important as it is. There is an added element of complexity and safety because a school is, more often than not, a safe environment and the people living there have access to lifesaving tools that can have a major impact on treatment success. They can at best help in augmenting our work in treating this illness and at worst help break down the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Simply put, learning, working with other professionals and becoming a resource for those suffering from mental illness are not mutually exclusive. They can all happen concurrently to help produce world-class students.
If you would like to explore the framework below to help expand the conversation around mental health in schools, I encourage you to contact me so I can explain it more fully.