Updated: Sep 11
People are slowly waking up to the reality that mental health education is an important subject that should be taught to all young people. Many of us are struggling with our mental health due to the overwhelming stresses and anxieties of our daily lives. These struggles often go unaddressed and unrecognized because we have not been taught how to identify and deal with mental health issues from a young age. Adolescence can be a particularly tumultuous time in a person's life, with a range of physical, emotional, and social changes occurring at a rapid pace. During this time, young people are particularly vulnerable to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.
That is why the introduction of mental health education in schools is so important. Young people can learn the skills and tools they need to better understand their mental health and to develop a more positive relationship with it.
The benefits of mental health education in schools or other educational settings are numerous and profound. Young people can learn how to:
1. Recognize warning signs and find help: When we're educating young people on the signs and symptoms of mental health issues, they become more aware of what to look for in themselves and their friends. For example, they may notice a change in someone's mood or behaviour that lasts for more than a few days, or they may observe signs of self-harm or suicidal thoughts. Recognizing these warning signs isn't enough on its own. It's important to know where to turn for help. Mental health education can teach young people about resources like hotlines, therapy options, and support groups. This knowledge can make all the difference in getting the support young people need to heal and thrive.
2. Build resilience: Another benefit of mental health education is that it teaches young people important coping mechanisms and self-care strategies that they can use to manage their mental health. By learning about different mental health conditions and how they affect the brain and body, young people can better understand their own experiences and develop strategies to better handle the challenges they will face throughout their lives.
3. Improve academic performance: Students who are struggling with mental health issues may find it challenging to concentrate and perform academically. And it's no wonder - when our minds are preoccupied with stress, anxiety, or other emotional concerns, it can be nearly impossible to focus on schoolwork and absorb new information. By improving their mental health, students can enhance their academic performance.
4. Reduce stigma: Mental health education can help break down the stigma that still surrounds mental illness, making it easier for young people to seek help if they need it. Many young people may be hesitant to talk about their mental health concerns because they fear being labelled as "crazy" or "weak." However, when mental health education is regularly taught in schools, it becomes a normal part of school life and young people are encouraged to talk openly and honestly about their thoughts and feelings.
5. Promote healthy relationships: Good mental health is essential for developing and maintaining healthy relationships. These are built on mutual trust, respect, and understanding, and these qualities can only be achieved when we are in a good place mentally and understand healthy boundaries. By learning how to prioritize mental health, young people can build stronger and healthier connections with others.
Overall, there are many benefits of mental health education in schools for young people. By breaking down the stigma surrounding mental illness, teaching coping mechanisms and self-care strategies, and promoting resilience and positive mental health habits, mental health education can help young people develop the skills and resources they need to navigate the challenges of adolescence and beyond. By prioritizing mental health education in schools, we can help ensure that young people have the tools they need to thrive.