By Amy Clark
A mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling or mood. Mental Illnesses can cause changes in appearance, health and school performance, according to nami.org. Depression and anxiety are serious conditions that require understanding and medical care.
Sophomore Monika Stewart opened up about her diagnosis of social anxiety and panic disorder.
“Anxiety prevents me from fully participating in class. Participation is part of our grades, so they drop. When a teacher asks a question, I don’t want to answer. Or if I know the answer, I won’t answer,” Stewart said.
Students who don’t understand may be negative and opinionated when it comes to others and the problems they may face in and out of the school environment.
“I’ve been blamed for my mental health. I’ve been told that if I’d just change part of my personality, I wouldn’t have anxiety. Being told that I’m ‘damaged’ or ‘messed up’ because I have a mental illness I can’t control makes me feel horrible and insecure,” Stewart said.
Junior Madelyn Tingle explains how, in some cases, mental health is not taken as seriously as it should be.
“Students and classmates don’t take mental health seriously. Many kids don’t take in the fact that people have other problems/issues happening outside of school and just focus on themselves when they speak,” Tingle said.
Tingle expresses her opinion on things our school could do to help improve the conditions for people affected by mental health at our school.
“It should be taught more in school. I took health and we barely talked about the mental health spectrum. Learning more about it can help change our ways and take mental health more seriously,” Tingle said.
Reach for Youth therapist, Kristin Butler, meets with children and teens from ages seven to 18 that suffer from ADHD, anxiety, depression, and a variety of other illnesses.
When someone brings up mental health, stigma can be associated with it, which can cause someone to think something is wrong with them.
“A lot of people don’t want their peers to know they’re struggling. If they realize they’re not the only person that has anxiety, that’s insecure, that helps normalize it and the stigma will then tend to go away. If mental health isn’t treated, then it does become stigmatic, and that definitely affects school performance,” Butler said.
There are many ways schools can make more of an effort to take mental health more seriously.
“Being aware of how many kids actually do suffer from mental illnesses and helping them have more resources for coping skills will help. Giving kids time to use them. Being more open instead of expecting every child to have the same type of mentality,” Butler said.
Students who suffer from mental illnesses should know they’re not alone. Just because someone has a mental illness or episodes relating to one, doesn’t mean something is wrong with them. There are many available sources to get help such as a psychologist, a therapist, or a school counselor.