Improving Mental Health Resources In Schools

Improving Mental Health Resources In Schools

“Teaching kids to count is fine, but teaching them what counts is best.” -Bob Talbert

Like most people, my middle school and high school experiences were filled with copious ups-and-downs. While there was fun to be had, more days than not, I found myself feeling stressed, sad, and utterly exhausted. As someone who had to deal with bullying from kindergarten, up until the end of high school, I found it very frustrating that I received little help from administrative figures when I'd report it. There are millions of students out there who are going through the exact same thing every single day. They feel as if the entire weight of the world is crashing down on them and that there's no one to help them bear the weight.

Whether it's bullying, anxiety, depression, relationship problems, troubled home life, or personal expectations, every student faces something that weighs down on their mind. Most schools have some form of counseling or guidance services and they are good resources to have. However, I believe that the most important resource for students are teachers. Day in and day out, our teachers stand in front of us and give their lessons; this is a great opportunity for them to possibly identify or notice changes in behavior and reach out to a student who may be in need.

At home, it is our parents who are responsible for our well-being and protection. At school, due to In Loco Parentis, "Under tort principles of negligence, educators owe students a duty to anticipate foreseeable dangers and to take reasonable steps to protect those students from that danger. To this end, educators owe the same degree of care and supervision to their students that reasonable and prudent parents would employ in the same circumstances for their children." This means that our teachers are responsible for looking out for the our safety and health while we are at school, just as our parents would at home.

I am fully aware that our teachers are only human and have very busy schedules to keep to. That being said, I think our teachers should be trained to identify the basic warning signs of a student having mental health issues. Doing so would make the school a safer environment and it would give students a trusted adult to speak to in times of distress.

Once, in high school, I had to sit in class and try to consul my friend who was having a panic attack. She was crying and shaking and was hyperventilating. The teacher either couldn't tell something was clearly wrong with her student, didn't know what to do, or simply didn't care enough to do anything. In such an event, a teacher should be able to help a student get access to the care he or she needs.

Teachers are on the front lines of our physical protection, so why can't they also be our biggest protectors mentally and emotionally as well?

As a psychology major who aspires to attend graduate school for school psychology, improving the environment and safety in schools is at the front of my mind. As a student who was failed by administration, improvement is something I demand. Our schools are better places when students can be less afraid of what's waiting around the corner for them, and more focused on learning and bettering themselves for their futures.

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The West Virginian Teachers' Strike Demonstrates How Badly We Treat Teachers In America

The treatment of their workers reflects in America's underappreciated teachers.

Teachers hold one of the most important jobs in America. There aren't many people who have the effect on children like teachers do. They can inspire, support and protect us along with frustrating and annoying us. I cannot imagine being where I am today, doing the things that I am doing, without their help and their teaching. They deserve respect and support from their governments for the effort they put in. Slowly, parts of our nation will begin to realize that the way they treat our teachers is disrespectful to the kind of work they do. That's because teachers have begun to speak up.

Recently in West Virginia, teachers went on a strike, effectively winning a five percent pay raise by closing schools for nine days. This was due to a tax cut, which in turn caused budget cuts in West Virginia, including the education sector. West Virginian teachers are also paid some of the lowest wages for teachers in the United States. People took note of this strike, and teachers in other states are moving forward with their own strikes. States such as Oklahoma have so many budget issues, they needed to switch to a four day work week, and some teachers are getting part-time jobs to compensate.

We should all support teachers' strikes, even though yes, the schools might need to be shut down.

I'm not saying this because I'm a high school student, but because I believe teachers are underpaid. The salaries do not fit the needs of teachers nor the students, especially in rural areas where local funding cannot cover many costs as richer suburban areas. We should all care about these things, everyone should have access to proper education, which is one of societies greatest equalizers.

Teachers need to pay their bills, their health needs and the needs of their families. Not only that, some teachers salaries go straight back to the school to buy supplies for the students and the classroom. Most teachers also stay behind to lead clubs, sports and tutoring, which is essentially overtime. Not only are teachers underpaid but the fact that they need to supply their classroom reflects the under-funding that the schools receive. An unfunded facility and underpaid employees defeat positive attitudes and care for their work.

Educators who are extremely dedicated may see themselves fall short and may have a second job, which may steal energy needed to teach properly.

You cannot play with a student's education, it represents their future.

SEE ALSO: Dear America, If High Schoolers Cheat, There Is Something Wrong With Our Education System

Schools that have more money per student have a higher graduation rate, and we need to get more students, especially in rural and poor areas, into college. Most new jobs are in areas where higher education will be necessary, and that begins with K-12 education. Schools that are underfunded overall will end up with more students in prison or in poverty than students graduated and in college.

An education begins with a teacher, therefore, like any other worker, they must be paid for their service. If a better-paid workforce leads to a better education it is worth the short time punishment of a week out from school. The investment in teachers is an investment in the future and in your children. The West Virginia protests show us that the educational system can change. It can get better for everyone involved.

Cover Image Credit: Facebook / Viralists

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It's Time To Admit 'Natural' Intelligence An Outdated Idea

It's not about how smart you are, but about how hard you work.

Elementary school was a weird time. MAP tests, AR reading comprehension, PACT and PASS and virtually any other acronym you can think of for the standardized tests that ultimately distinguished whether or not you were considered relatively gifted. And, while in theory, this may or may not have prepared students for the rigorous curriculum of more challenging courses, I still have to ask: Is this really necessary at age 8?

Don't get me wrong, preparing kids with the highest quality education is what I'm here for... but it's also relatively difficult to decide who's "gifted and talented" and who's not.

Maybe I'm wrong, but with the rise of the gifted and talented curriculum in the early 2000s, came the plateau of the "honors kid burnout" in the 2010s.

Similar to the stigma of the participation trophy in kids sports, the establishment of a "more advanced curriculum" for students as young as 7 or 8 (I put that in quotations because, realistically, these courses were not significantly more advanced), in my opinion, unintentionally reinforced the idealized form of "natural intelligence".

Natural intelligence ultimately presents the idea that "smart" individuals should be able to learn or even simply have the knowledge, without the need to practice, memorize, or really study anything. You weren't considered "intelligent" if it took you more time to learn something, or you had to ask for help. Facts and memorization, intellect and intuition, came naturally and you either had it or you didn't.

This is problematic on multiple fronts.

The process of reaffirming elementary school students (again, this comes from my own personal experience and observation of those with similar experiences), and reinforcing the idea that they are "naturally" smart, gifted, or talented is great in ego-boosting throughout public school.


Entering into an actually academically advanced environment, whether it be Advanced Placement courses, or Dual Enrollment, or even as far as into college, there becomes a problem.

Students that have been told throughout a vast majoring of their lives that they were naturally gifted with intelligence have very early in life placed a negative association with studying, working hard, or having difficulty with something.

Students that have gotten straight A's throughout middle and high school simply by glancing at notes before the exam or by using common sense are have already been conditioned to associate something as simple as making flashcards or asking a teacher for help with failure.

Natural intelligence, natural talent, and virtually any idea that individuals have to be born with a skill in order to be significantly gifted is more often than not, counterproductive.

Making the goal of public education something as one dimensional as letter grades, and conditioning students to view them as more of a ranking system than as a showcase of hard work, does more than just discourage morale. It encourages efficiency. It encourages academic dishonesty. It encourages getting an A by any means necessary because, for someone who has been defined as "naturally intelligent" most of their life, they have no room for disappointment.

Children, especially in this day and age, need to be conditioned to view hard work as honorable, as respectable, and in no way a weakness, or something to be ashamed of. There are no "August Rush's" in this reality, but there are more than enough "Rudy."

Teaching kids that it was their hard work and their dedication that really got them that grade, alter how they view more than just grades. Encouraging hard work, diligence, dedication, and even something as simple as effort goes farther than just academics. Kids that are more encouraged to take risks and think creatively become kids that are more willing to try, regardless of the outcome.

Because life isn't really a grading system, but a test of skills and attitude.

It's not how smart you are, but how hard you work.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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