As part of a stronger push towards mental health awareness, elementary and middle and high school students in New York will have detailed discussions and lectures on the topic.
This is the result of a new law which made it mandatory for schools to make mental health a part of their curriculum. Mental health experts have stated that this is a big step towards better awareness among growing kids, setting the standard for mental health for the upcoming generation.
There are many stigmas revolving mental health in today’s societies, and part of fixing those stigmas is making sure that the new batch of students are aware of the importance of mental health. Researches have indicated that teenagers especially face a multitude of mental and psychological problems, but fear that their concerns will be disregarded by their parents. Making sure that they know that this is not the case and that their mental wellbeing is just as important as their physical health is vital, one expert says.
The National Institutes of Mental Health in the US estimates that the number of children who suffer from anxiety is close to 19.1%, and that 31.1% will at a later point in their life develop this ailment. Anxiety can greatly limit one’s ability to interact with their surroundings and function as a member of society – and this is why it is imperative for this to be seen as a serious mental illness – for both adults and kids.
While the new law doesn’t aim to overburden young kids with difficult to grasp concepts or have them go through a college-level Psych 101 course, it does hope to ensure that kids have a fundamental understanding of mental health, and have the knowledge to recognize someone who is in need of assistance in their surroundings. John Ritcher, Director of Public Policy for MHANYS and Author of the white paper that outlined the guidelines stated that after these measures, children will hopefully have the power to know where and how to get assistance for any mental difficulty they may be going through – and won’t feel ashamed or outcast for speaking up on these problems.
Ritcher added: “What does it mean to be sad? What does anger look like? What does it mean to be happy? If you are angry, what are some ways you can talk about that? What can you do to feel less angry?” – these are the things that children should be able to understand and get help for whenever needed. While the lectures are targeted mostly towards children – the end goal is to get everyone talking about mental health. Undoubtedly, it is a topic that encompasses people of all ages – and as such it is important for society as a whole to become more open to it.
“Mental and physical health are not necessarily separate concepts and the two depend on each other for total health” is what Linda Chokroverty, MD, had to say. She is an attending physician and assistant clinical professor of pediatrics and psychiatry at Montefiore Health System and Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.