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How Do School Administrators Affect The Mental Health Of Students?

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates 20 percent of American adolescents have a diagnosable mental disorder. Around eight percent of these adolescents meet the criteria for major depression. Each year, approximately 2 million teens attempt suicide; about 2,000 succeed. 

The mental health crisis in our schools is a result of a lack of education on the matter, and a lack of resources to properly mitigate it. Teachers, who are the most hands-on with these students the majority of the time, aren’t trained in mental health. And on top of that, they have 25 or more other students in that class and dozens of other responsibilities on their plate.

Teachers are not equipped with the time, resources, or training necessary to give students with signs of mental health issues the unique attention they deserve. Moreover, mental health education is seldom part of the student’s curriculum, even though parents recognize the importance of the subject.

What role do administrators such as heads of schools or principals play in this issue?

PERSONAL STORIES

To better understand this issue I asked several high school students if they believed their head master and or principal affected their mental health.

Emma H, grade 10: I think so. I personally go to therapy weekly for issues relating to anxiety and a lot of my friends do to. It seems like a lot of people have mental health issues but no one here (at school) ever talks to us about it. Mr. Barton (our principal) or Mr. Neely (our headmaster) should figure out a way to teach us about our mental health but instead we never talk about it.

Darren R, grade 12: Of course. I remember a period of time a few months ago when everything was happening with Mr. Neely (our headmaster who resigned due to issues with faculty, parents, and students.) It was all we talked about. Especially now with everything going on it seems like that was such a waste of time.

Simran G, grade 11: I would say they impact my mental health. Considering they control such a huge aspect of my life it’s hard for them not to. There have been countless times were I feel so unheard it’s unbelievable. 

Charlotte H, grade 12: I’d say yes, they probably affect some more than others but we have to deal with every decision they make. I don’t know if they really realize they have that power you know? It can definitely cause a lot of anxiety when they disregard our options or make decisions we disagree with. They treat us like adults until it comes to the important stuff… then we’re just kids who don’t understand.

MY RESPONSE: WHAT NEEDS TO CHANGE

Below is a short video showing  how facilitating a conversation about mental health and mental illness is helpful to students. 

Administrators need to facilitate conversations regarding mental health and mental illness. Even small steps such as having the school guidance counselor give a presentation during a school assembly or having a professional come in to speak.

WHAT WE CAN DO

Here are a few small examples of what we can to do institute change:

-Schedule a meeting (zoom call) with your head of school or principal to discuss this issue and ask that the school arranges for a lecture on mental health

-If you want additional support before meeting with your head of school or principal talk to a teacher and ask that they get involved as well

-Research local experts who would be willing to speak to your school or ask your school guidance counselor to give a presentation on the importance of mental health

HOW TO GET INVOLVED

I’m interested to hear  from you on whether or not my project is relatable to you. Did you feel this issue is something common and widespread?

In the comments below, please let me know what you think of my projects by answering one of the following two questions: 

  • Do you feel like administrators affect the mental health of students your school?
  • Do you feel like you receive enough information and education based on mental health and or mental illness at your school?

Please feel free to comment any other questions or ideas you have about this issue!

Works Cited Page: https://docs.google.com/document/d/12_C2i26tUESKaTfAodf79o2EW0FL4BQxPUjGzQhEXeU/edit?usp=sharing

 

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COMMENTS: 17
  1. April 22, 2020 by Lucy Karem

    Hi! Great work on your project. This project is something that is super relatable. I do feel like administrators affect the mental heath of the student body at my school. I feel like I am lucky where I go to a school because we have assemblies focused on mental health and so on. However, I feel like mental health is still a very common thing in my community that is not normalized.

    • April 25, 2020 by Kelly

      Hey Lucy! Thank you for your feedback on my project. I really appreciate it.

  2. April 23, 2020 by Matt Neely

    So pleased to read this, Kelly, and proud of your work. Please don’t hesitate to schedule a meeting with me!

    • April 25, 2020 by Kelly

      Thank you!

  3. April 24, 2020 by Ellen Cohen

    This is so interesting, Kelly! Great work!

    • April 25, 2020 by Kelly

      Thank you!

  4. April 24, 2020 by Cam

    [* Shield plugin marked this comment as “Pending Moderation”. Reason: Whoops. Google reCAPTCHA was not submitted. *]
    Hi Kelly! I really like your project as I think mental health is such an important subject to be talked about within schools. I believe not having enough information provided by schools on this matter is a common and widespread issue. I’m lucky enough to attend a school where we have multiple seminars for mental health but at the same time, I feel like certain topics are not talked about enough. For instance, at my school, we will talk about anxiety and depression quite often but we won’t cover topics such as eating disorders or bipolar disorder, which are equally important and vital to cover.

    • April 25, 2020 by Kelly

      Hey Cam! Thank you for your feedback on my project. I really appreciate it. I’m glad to hear that your school talks about mental health, even if they don’t cover everything.

  5. April 24, 2020 by Anna

    This is such a good project and i love the topic. I do think that the administrators have a big impact on students mental health especially at the private school level. At my school since it’s private there is a very strong administrative political view which is feels is pushed on to the students. I think the administration has a larger effect on students mental health than they realize. I think my school likes to make it look like they help students with their mental health, but in reality mental health conversations aren’t encouraged. We have a sub par health class and a very toxic stressful culture.

    • April 25, 2020 by Kelly

      Hey Anna! Thank you for your feedback on my project. I really appreciate it. I definitely agree that this issue is most likely heightened at private schools. I hadn’t thought about the political aspect of this issue but now that you mention it that I have realized that is something that happens at my school too. I hope my page has encouraged you to speak to someone at your school about this issue.

  6. April 25, 2020 by Mutin

    Hi Kelly, I think your webpage is needed to make awareness of this pressing issue. I am privileged to go to a school where teachers are open about their mental illness, which allows for a lot of students to seek counseling from our counselors. However, I couldn’t imagine how it is like for public school students where teachers don’t have the time to tend to every student. It is also interesting to think about how students who are not only American but come into America as immigrants and refugees who approach mental illness in different ways. I think teachers need to be educated in that area as well so refugees and immigrants can be included in the community.

    • April 26, 2020 by Kelly

      Hey Mutin! Thank you for your feedback on my project. I really appreciate it. I agree with you that this issue is probably more prevalent in public schools but I can’t really speak to that as most of my research is based on private schools. I also agree that teachers should be educated about refugees and immigrants.

  7. April 26, 2020 by Samantha

    I really enjoyed reading your project! I go to a school where the faculty and staff work to give presentations on mental health and constantly remind us that we have resources to use and counselors to talk to. However, I don’t think our teachers are quite aware of the pressure their classes put on us. I think the video you added to your presentation really put mental health into perspective, since I’ve always known there was a stigma but didn’t really see it due to my school’s “bubble.”

    • April 26, 2020 by Kelly

      Hey Samantha! Thank you for your feedback on my project. I really appreciate it. I agree that teachers might not always realize the amount of pressure we are under which is why adding this form of curriculum into our schools is so important.

  8. April 26, 2020 by Maria

    This is a very interesting topic. I hadn’t really thought about this issue before.

  9. April 26, 2020 by Heather

    Hi Kelly, you raised awareness about an important angle of this issue. How might you keep the conversation going at your school and beyond?

  10. April 27, 2020 by Caroline

    Hey Kelly!
    I loved reading your presentation! It’s super interesting to see the student’s personal point of view about their teachers and principals! Do you think the faculty knew that they were possibly hurting students?

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