Stigma surrounding mental illness and a lack of general conversation around the issue has been linked to a hesitancy in many adolescents in seeking mental health help (Salerno). This is especially worrisome considering the mounting prevalence of mental health issues in teenagers. According to a United States survey, half of all teenagers 13 to 18 will experience a mental health disorder (Park).
Narratives. A study was conducted to examine the role of narrative persuasion in promoting mental illness acceptance. Narratives were found to be more effective than non-narratives in promoting favorable attitudes towards people with mental illness (Nan). Narratives are more effective because of ‘transportation’: there is more imagery and more intense emotions present, which reduces the motivation and ability to counter argue (Nan). Narratives help to foster empathy and reduce stigma.
A similar second study was conducted with nursing students. Stigma towards psychiatry and people with serious mental illnesses is prevalent in healthcare providers and can adversely affect patient care (Amsalem). In an attempt to reduce stigma in a group of nursing students, theses students interacted with stable patients with serious mental illnesses. This gave the nursing students exposure to individuals with lived experiences of mental illness. Previously, a general psychiatric course wasn’t useful in changing stigmatized perceptions about mental illness, psychiatric care, and mental health nursing as a profession (Amsalem). The study found that the education of nursing students should be enhanced through this method (Amsalem).
The Goal: To overall encourage not just more awareness, but more understanding within society about this issue. Ideally, we want to facilitate meaningful learning in middle and high school so that rising generations of citizens feel a connection and understanding with the issue of mental health / mental illness and are empathetic in all careers and personal aspects of life.
Over the course of this online experience, a big takeaway I have is the sheer amount of resources and information one has access to online. Often times, the hardest part is sifting through it all to find important things to read, watch, consume, etc. You don’t have to become an expert and you don’t have to know everything. Every step you take counts, no matter how small. So what can you do to help? Just click on a couple links below. Be curious and open-minded and learn about the issue. If our schools don’t provide the education for us, it is important to go seek the information ourselves.
After you have learned more about the subject, bring it into the scope of others’ awareness. Tell your friends about what you’ve learned, send them the link to the TedTalk you particularly liked. The important thing is that the topic spreads as much as possible into the public’s consciousness and acceptance. Every time information is talked about and shared, we move one step forward.
•National Alliance on Mental Illness: https://www.nami.org/Home
•National Institute of Mental Health: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml?scrlybrkr=7ff08cc4
•What Is Mental Illness? https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/what-is-mental-illness
•Mental Health Disorders: https://medlineplus.gov/mentaldisorders.html
What Does Anxiety Feel Like?
Read: In class we read Crazy Like Us (Ethan Watters), which was extremely interesting and informative. I would highly recommend this book if you are interested in learning more about this subject.
My name is (Your Name), and I am a high school student at (Your School). This semester, I have enrolled in a course in an online program called Global Online Academy. During this time, I have learned a lot about mental health and mental illness disorders, and became concerned with the lack of education on this subject to the student body at our school. I wanted to bring this to your attention, and let you know that this is something that concerns me and my classmates. We implore you to consider how we might integrate an education on mental illness into our curriculum moving forward, as understanding it eliminates stigma around the subject and helps us become individuals with higher degrees of empathy and awareness.
Thank you so much for taking the time to listen to student voices.
-Middle School is the time when students’ brains are rewiring and forming new connections. It is an important time to begin the conversation around mental health and mental illness. They are impressionable and largely free of long-lasting stigma. An important step in mental illness awareness is the mild introduction of the subject into middle school curriculums.
-A suggested approach / curriculum of middle schools:
-It is also important to continue these conversations in high schools. At this point, students are able to achieve a broader range of understanding and can handle more in-depth learning. It’s important that students feel they have a sense of the subject so it’s not so foreign and hard to understand.
-Suggested approach / curriculum for high school:
In order to help me learn more about this topic, please answer the following questions below in the comments:
•Is mental health and mental illness a part of your school curriculum?
•How do you feel about the amount of mental health education your school provides?
•What’s something you would like to see your school do in terms of mental health / mental illness awareness and education?