Mental Health was something my school never talked about, we had the “Say No to Drugs!” campaign and the “Anti Bullying” campaign but never the “Mental Health Awareness” campaign. Even though I have had anxiety since I was eight years old I never knew exactly what it was about and I never had a safe space away from home to talk about it with other people, or if other people even had anxiety. Then at sixteen years old I suffered Depression and now at the age of twenty four that has been on and off within me throughout my life; I was scared to tell other people when I was younger that I suffered with anxiety and depression, but I thought it wasn’t normal, I thought not a lot of people were going through what I was going through and I didn’t want to be judge or treated differently because of it. Then finding out during my senior year of high school several people that I grew up with also suffered with some type of mental health illness as well, and they were ashamed to talk about it. This proposal made me think about my past and present with mental health and how in today’s society we should have better resources for adolescents and their mental health. The first step is to discuss the statistics about the mental health of the American people of 2019, it is wise to talk about these statistics to show how much the youth of America needs help within the school system as well.  

NAMI is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Adrienne Kennedy is the president of this alliance which has statistics about mental health here in America which has been since updated in September of this year. They say that 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6=17 experience a mental health disorder each year, and that suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34; so that means since 2016 that 16.5% of U.S. youth aged 6-17 experienced a mental health disorder. “It’s important to measure how common mental illness is, so we can understand its physical, social and financial impact- and so we can show that no one is alone.” (Kennedy) This is an important point to make, as adults we have to know that we are not alone and take that mindset with us and start to teach the younger generation that new mindset, that living with mental illness is okay and that they are not alone, they have others to talk to about what is going on with them. If schools have a safe space where children or adolescents can go and talk freely together about what is going on with them and to be able to have comradery with other people it would change the lives of the younger and future generations. The professors who are apart of NAMI wish that their organization will spread awareness about Mental Health stigma and that it should be a safe subject to talk about, not only with adults but with children and adolescents. Hopefully one day they will be able to talk about this subject in schools to teach the younger generation that if they have a mental illness or know of someone that has one, that they will know about that illness and it’s okay to talk about it, it’s not a subject that should be told to keep quiet; because that’s what is happening with youth to this day, it’s hard to talk about something that they really do not understand to other people who do not even know what could even be consider a mental illness. I think at least once or twice a month schools should hold a meeting for people who are curious about mental and want a better understanding of it, maybe students who are comfortable enough talking about it can share their own stories.

Also, the article written by (Salerno) states that “The lifetime prevalence rate for any mental disorder in adolescents is 46.3%… Adolescence is an opportune time to intervene on mental illness since many mental health conditions have their onset before the age of 20.” The article also states that since suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death between ages 10-34 is because many young people do not know that something is going on inside of their mind and it’s usually too late when they get diagnosed, and they never received the proper mental health care. (O’Reilly) States that “The World Health Organization “WHO” defines mental health promotion as actions to create living conditions and environments that support mental health and allow people to adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles.” One thing that I found interesting about this article is that the WHO also defines mental illness prevention “as an encompassing the reduction of incidence, prevalence, and recurrence of illness.” They state that targeting ‘at risk’ youth groups and coming up with prevention strategies tend to be useful from developing disorders, but they also make sure to state that “The distinction is less rigid for young populations, because children develop skills as they mature, and skill development aimed at promoting well-being can have preventative effects.” (O’Rielly)

There are two things that have helped me with my anxiety and that is going to therapy which has helped tremendously and has made me think differently about my anxiety and how I handle a situation when it slowly creeps up on me. The other thing is meditation from the journal that I read by (Greenberg and Harris) “An explosion of interest in secular mindfulness strategies including meditation, attention training, yoga, and other techniques as methods to support wellness.” Having an anxiety attack is like having someone or something take over your mind and body, with me I tend to get high anxiety in huge crowds, usually I do a five minute meditation before I go to a place where I know there are going to be a lot of people, and it has helped me so much. Reading that journal made me think that if schools have area for children with high stressors that come with their mental illness can participate in meditation class or have area in the safe space classroom where they can have a few minutes to get themselves together and have a moment to themselves. Another journal written by (Murphy) “Substantial research now shows that school based mental health interventions can be widely implemented and can lead to population wide improvements in mental health, physical health, educational, and social outcomes.” One of the programs the author and his colleagues focused on is called “FRIENDS” and it aims to reduce anxiety and to teach skills for managing emotions and coping with stress not only to children, but also to parents and teachers. “Most of the programs have been implemented across school districts, while some have been introduced on the state or national level.” (Murphy)

The solution I have is that in grades k-12 they only have educational counselors, but they should start having regular counselors for students to have someone to talk to. They could have their own classroom where a student could feel safe, accepted, and heard; be in a space that they have someone they can trust and make friends with people who are going through the same thoughts and emotions. That twice a month they have a mental health awareness class to inform students who want to know more about their condition or are just curious about what is considered a mental illness. Also maybe having a yoga or meditation club held in within the safe space could be beneficial as well, “Studies reported reported improvements in outcomes such as attention, internalizing and externalizing behavior problems, anxiety, and academic performance.” (Greenberg and Harris).  I hope one day students will have that opportunity that so many of us did not get growing up, because it would be very beneficial for younger generations.

Annotated Bibliography

Greenberg, Mark T., Harris, Alexis R. “Nurturing mindfulness in children and youth: current state of research.” Child Development Perspectives 6.2 (2012) 161-166. Talks about practices of mental health prevention and promotion. Also, discusses school bases programs and how effective they can be. This will be positive to know how people help promote mental health. Also, the preventions they can take to help children coup with their mind and why they have that mental health illness. It’s reliable because this is a scholarly article.

Kennedy, Adrienne. “Mental Health by the Numbers” NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness, Sept 2019. this source will help me write my proposal because this organization helps discuss mental health. Is a special resource for several types of mental illness. It shows statistics on mental health in America, and how each of those illnesses affects Americans. Will help me with the discussion on how much we need to talk about this issue in schools, and not make it a taboo subject. The reliability of this source is because this organization is made up with professors who studied mental illness.

Murphy, Michael J., “Mental Health programs in schools: Growing body of evidence supports effectiveness,” Science Daily. 10th August 2017 this article also has research on mental health programs and how effective they are. Discusses how positive programs can be for children all the way through adult life. Would be great in my paper because of the program called Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS). Some of the programs have been introduced in school districts and also have been introduced on the state and national level. This is reliable because this research is from Dr. Michael Murphy of Massachusetts and some of his colleagues.

O’Reilly, Michelle “Review of Mental Health promotion interventions in schools.” Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology Vol. 53,7 (2018) this article discusses mental health disorders within children and adolescents and how it is increasing rapidly. This is going to be helpful with the discussion about children’s mental health and how much we need more resources in schools. This is reliable because this is a scholarly article.

Salerno, John D, “Effectiveness of universal school-based Mental Health Awareness programs among youth in the Unites States: A Systematic Review.” US National Library of Medicine, Dec 2017. this article discusses attitudes toward mental illness and the low knowledge about mental health. Discusses the barriers we have with adolescents. This helps with the report because they do research on adolescents about their knowledge on mental health. This is a reliable source because it is a scholarly article.