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Mental health support in schools…

8 December 2020

by B

I feel that there are a huge number of people in schools that are suffering from mental health issues but it is a topic that isn't often spoken about among students and teachers. In my school mental health isn’t discussed often but when it is discussed, it is always spoken about as if the only reason a schoolchild would be suffering from mental health issues is because of the pressure of exams.

It seems as if our principal thinks the only cure is to participate in PE or go out and get fresh air. If this is the case how can anyone feel comfortable speaking about an issue that is going on in their life and expect someone to give advice on how they can help themselves.

We have all heard the expression ‘it's ok not to be ok’ but why is it that people find it so difficult to express themselves and share how they are really feeling? We have a guidance counsellor in my school, but it is as though nobody seems to ever go to her to discuss an issue they are facing. If they do it is very secretive which shows that people aren’t practising what they preach when they say ‘it’s ok not to be ok’ if they are embarrassed to be getting help. As well as this our guidance counsellor is also a teacher in the school. In my opinion, I think it would be more difficult to speak with someone who is a part of another aspect of your life because you wouldn’t want to feel as if you are being treated differently when in a classroom with the teacher.

If it were up to me I would draw more attention towards the transition from primary school to secondary school. Although many people are lucky to come from a primary school with other people so that they start off in schools with nearly all their friends, others have it much more difficult and are thrown in at the deep end. They must squeeze themselves in somewhere that may not be the best fit and others are more unlucky and don’t manage to find their place in their first year in school which leaves them alone and others in positions where they feel uncomfortable. This can often lead to mental health issues and it makes it more difficult then that it is not an openly discussed topic because people are more vulnerable and afraid of losing friends. Often these situations carry on into second year and groups begin to split which creates very tough situations for young people to be dealing with on top of all the work teachers are piling on.

It’s not that students are asking for sympathy, I think what would help a lot is for teachers to have more understanding and to be more aware of the difficulties students with mental health issues face daily. In my opinion, it would very much help for there to be a designated counsellor in schools who is separate from the classroom. I think it would be appreciated by students if the guidance counsellor took time to meet with everyone at least twice in the school year for just a short 10-minute meeting.

I hope there is a decrease in mental health difficulties in schools soon so that people can feel it is a more openly discussed topic and that there is more awareness raised around the issue.