Schools should work to help struggling teens

Kayla Balcom, Reporter

A mental health crisis is worsening in schools everywhere, and not enough is being done to stop it.

Students are finding themselves struggling with mental illness and thoughts of suicide, wanting help, but not knowing how to get it.

Why is it that teens are still turning to self harm and suicide to cope with their problems, even if it seems as if help is available?

Many teens are afraid of judgment from counselors and peers, and are afraid to seek help.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Kansas has a higher rate of suicide than other states, averaging about 16 Kansan suicide deaths versus the national average of 13 deaths per 100,000 people in 2016.

In addition, according to the Kansas Suicide Prevention Center, in 2016 suicide became the second leading cause of death in the 15-24 age group and the third leading cause of death for the 5-14 age group. Evidently, more effort needs to be made to help suffering teens.

Many factors can worsen depression and anxiety, including seasonal changes, life events and stress.

Schools can help by lessening homework load, giving teens more opportunities to socialize and form friend groups, and actively working to change the negative connotation mental illness is given.

Cutting down on homework would give students more time to participate in activities they enjoy, and lessen the stress caused by grades and deadlines.

Designated socialization time, like an even longer lunch, would give teens an opportunity to hone interpersonal skills.

The current lunch system puts too much focus on school work to be beneficial for socialization.

A lunch block in which students would prioritize relaxation and peer relationships would give a much needed break from school stressors, which can boost morale and improve students’ willingness to learn.

Mental illness is often looked down upon, and young people often think mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression make a person unstable and unreliable, when some might show no symptoms at all.

Proper education about such illnesses can impact the stigma behind them, since teens can more readily understand and be ready to encounter mentally ill individuals.

In addition, there should be a bigger push for inclusivity in schools, so that teens who might be considered “different,” won’t feel so alone.

A big reason teens choose to commit suicide is because they think no one will care that they have killed themselves.

An environment that includes a support system consisting of multiple psychologists, student peer groups and mandatory mental health education can combat this line of thinking so students know they are cared about.

School should be a place where everyone feels safe to learn and grow, not a place that hinders the success of its students.