OPINION: Schools must better support students’ mental health


Hashim Al-Hashim, Wikimedia Commons

Since March 2020, students have struggled with their mental health. World Language department chair Jerry Turk thinks remote learning made this even more difficult for students. He said, “Online learning should not happen. It was horrendous. We came back, and it was a real challenge for kids to stay seated, to get work done, to stay focused for 90 minutes a day, times four, in some cases.”

Amanda Patrick, Guest Writer

The COVID-19 pandemic has left students needing more mental health support than ever before. Schools across the U.S. are not prepared to take enough actions to create a better mental environment for students.

After the pandemic, teen suicides have increased at a drastic rate, causing national recognition and concern. This rapid increase is a serious issue and must be addressed by adding support and help to every school. Jessica Calefati of Politico wrote, “U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issued an advisory to call attention to a ‘youth mental health crisis,’ and two months before that, three children’s medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, declared a national state of emergency in children’s mental health.”

A student’s mental health has a large impact on their school performance. Spanish teacher and Interact club adviser Jerry Turk regularly advocates for his students and talks with them to gain an understanding of their mental health. Turk said, “If you’re mentally or emotionally in a bad place, the last thing you need to think about is caring about your chemistry test that’s coming up next period.”

Schooling has an important role on the next generation and makes a huge impact on each student. Senior class student council president, Mykenna Roy, interacts with a variety of students every day and understands the impacts of the pandemic on students. Roy said, “Schools are educating the next generation, they have the future in their hands. Schools have such a large responsibility, and so many kids to take care of they need to care about their mental health if they want successful students.”

The U.S. Congress is attempting to pass a bill that would give more funding for schools to increase social workers in schools and mental health specialists, which hopefully will pass to produce a positive impact on students. In an interview by Elizabeth Heubeck of Connecticut Public, school social worker Jara Rijs said, “A school year during which she’s never before seen students so mentally fragile.” In order to fix these issues, more specialists and social workers are needed to create a solution.

This legislation would include more opportunities for students to get support, and a change in curriculum to allow students to learn how to better their mental health and where to get help. Roy also said, “I think the legislation is a step in the right direction, it’s starting to put things on a bigger scale, and it’s starting to attack the problem more directly than just saying ‘go here, and do this and do that,’ it’s starting to individualize kid’s problems.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has hurt many students in terms of mental health and work ethic. Turk said, “We come back and it’s a real challenge for students to stay seated to get work done and stay focused for 90 minutes a day times four.”

The United States needs to address students suffering from the mental impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. According to Bill Smith, in an interview with WJLA news, “‘2022 brings an urgent challenge and a profoundly important opportunity… The truth is we weren’t adequately addressing this crisis before the pandemic, and it’s only gotten worse.’”

Schools across the country must address the mental health issues of teenagers, now more than ever. The new legislation would increase the number of support schools can provide and begin helping adolescents who are suffering.