According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mental illness is among one of the most common health conditions found in the United States today. In fact, more than 50% of U.S. adults will need mental health treatment during their lifetime. Likewise, another study has found that half of adult disorders will emerge before the age of 14 and 70% before the age of 18—making the formative age of adolescence a crucial period for identifying mental illnesses and disorders as they arise. Without the appropriate assistance and guidance, such illnesses can harm these adolescents’ personal relationships, academic career, and life trajectory.
There are many barriers that make it difficult for individuals to receive the help they need. Whether that’s the lack of education or knowledge of where to seek help or simply the fear of reaching out due to the societal stigma that surrounds mental health. Mental health stigma exists in school administration teams, making it difficult to promote mental health awareness for students and cultivate a more inclusive environment for mental health topics. With that being said, it’s crucial for school administrators to take the initiative to eliminate the mental stigma in school environments due to the fact that, in those settings, students tend to pick up similar attitudes and opinions that their respective peers, parents, teachers, and administrators will express.
School administrators have the potential to guide students by providing access to pertinent information and resources on and off-campus to help aid students if they do need mental health assistance. Not only that, but school administration can also collaborate with other school staff to organize and plan programs to help normalize the topics of mental health—thus, opening the conversation to speak about mental health issues and eliminating the stigma.
As time goes on, the importance of erasing the mental health stigma in educational communities grows as the topic of mental health becomes more normalized. While it’s crucial for our schools to assist students in their academic journeys, it is equally important to be there emotionally for them as well.
Lauren Garcia (she/her) is a junior Psychology student at the University of California, Riverside. With a strong passion for mental health, she plans to pursue a career in Clinical Psychology while researching psychological disorders and human cognition. She is an Outreach Intern at Neolth, using her passion and knowledge to expand access to mental health resources to students everywhere.