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.