Life with a mental illness is challenging and adding school on top of that can make it seem unbearable. 1 in 4 students struggle with mental illnesses and 50% of all lifetime mental health illnesses begin at the age of 14.
Young adults are shown to be the most skeptical to go and get help for their mental illness. Growing up involves so many personal changes and so have positive reinforcements from teachers, parents, and peers can really make all the difference. Here are some way schools can help students with mental illness so they don’t feel pressured to withdraw:
1. Provide Individualized Academic Plans: Some of the side affects of dealing with a mental illness and school can really have a negative impact on one’s schoolwork. The inability to concentrate makes completing assignments on time nearly impossible. Also mental illnesses can make us physically sick to the point where we cannot even make it to class. These individualized academic plans will take into account each and every individual’s struggles. The plans will include deadline extensions, private tutors, and online courses. The goal of an individualized academic plan is to make living with a mental illness and getting an education bearable.
2.On Site Medical Health Center: Just like there is a nurse’s office, we need to see more actually counseling centers in schools. Students should feel comfortable asking for help and creating an environment where they feel protected to do so can turn school into a safe haven. I definitely felt so much more like myself when I was able to turn to my college’s counseling center for help with my anxiety. These on site centers would provide individual, group, and family therapies as well as crisis interventions.
3. Mental Health Training Programs: The gap between the mentally ill and the rest of the world involves a lack of understanding. Providing training programs to teachers and parents can make them better prepared to knowing how to serve as aid to students with mental illness. The training programs should be available online and it should include information on how to identify signs of mental illnesses as well as what they can do to help.
4. Spread Mental Health Awareness: Spreading awareness to mental illness can reach many students who feel like they are alone with these issues. One way we can do this is by having presentations that are related to mental health, that are intriguing, and that will encourage healthy conversations. Another way to build awareness is to bring mental health issues into the classroom through projects or educational programming. Having more events on campus and clubs that focus on mental health can definitely help eliminate the stigma that says it’s not okay to ask for help.
Listen to Episode 5 of my podcast Anxious Ramblings!
For this episode I speak about my experience with being a college student with a mental illness. I also add thoughts on what should be done in educational institutions so that students don’t feel like they have to withdraw. The guest interview for this episode is Matt and we talk about his experiences with mental illness. This episode will end with me sharing how different people feel about dealing with school and mental illness.
Julia Cardoso is the Mental Health Staff Writer with a focus
on Anxiety Disorders. She is a graduate of Emmanuel College with a BA in Sociology and is on her second year MSW program at Simmons College. Julia is passionate about Mental Health and eliminating the stigma.