Most Shared

States are starting to require mental health classes for all students. It’s about dang time.

Why did this take so long?

States are starting to require mental health classes for all students. It’s about dang time.

The Florida State Board of Education recently voted to require all students in the sixth grade and up to receive five hours of mental health instruction every year. Florida may have more than its fair share of questionable legislation, but this is highly commendable.

Florida isn't the first state to mandate such courses—New York, Virginia, and Maine all passed bills requiring mental health to be part of the required curriculum last school year, and more states are sure to follow suit.

It's a huge move in the right direction—and it's about dang time.

I taught in public schools fresh out of college, and even two decades ago I saw how much of a need there was for mental health education. Today, my thoughts on the matter are much more personal. Our oldest daughter spent much of her tween and teen years struggling with a mental health disorder called emetophobia—a clinical fear of throwing up. It got to the point in her mid-teens where she had a hard time doing normal, everyday things, like eating or being around people.

So we took her to a therapist. Not only did she get help with her specific phobia, but her therapist taught her so much about how her brain works and how to manage her thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. There are many things that can go haywire in people's brains, and learning how it all works and learning how to train the brain through behavior and disrupting thought patterns, was invaluable.

RELATED: This teacher's viral 'check-in' board is a beautiful example of mental health support.

I told my brother, who had been to therapy himself for a different issue, how much I had learned sitting in my daughter's sessions. "Cognitive behavioral therapy is amazing, isn't it?" he said. "I don't know why we don't teach it to all kids in schools."

"Yes!" I said. "Seriously, though, why don't we?"

I've never personally struggled with a mental health disorder, but even I got a lot out of attending my daughter's therapy sessions. How many students are out there not getting the mental health support they need and suffering in silence? How many kids are self-medicating with drugs or alcohol because they have no tools to manage anxiety or depression or other mental health issues? How many people could we help immensely by starting young and teaching some mental health tools and techniques to every kid?

Brandi Lewis, certified school counselor, licensed professional counselor, and owner of Reach Counseling Solutions, says school counselors are often overbooked due to students' mental health needs. "Our students are managing a lot of different concerns that are difficult for anyone," she says, "but for children, it can be hard to handle because there are so many other challenges that they face."

"Imagine going through the changes of puberty or relationships while living in a social media culture and a world where it's acceptable to talk about your feelings, but there's also a stigma about mental health," she adds. "For my students, they have openly mentioned that it's embarrassing to feel 'crazy.' Some of the common concerns that I've seen along with child abuse and bullying are anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation. We complete more suicide assessments than many people may think."

Lewis says that addressing mental health in classes might help students recognize the signs of a mental health crisis so they can get the help they need early on—and also reduce the stigma surrounding mental health.

Physical education has been part of school curricula for decades, and people don't mind talking about their physical ailments. Why have we never delved into mental health education? Is it because we haven't had enough information on how to apply it to the general population? Is it because of the stigma so long associated with having mental health issues?

RELATED: A huge thanks to those who openly share their mental illnesses. You saved my daughter.

Thankfully, that stigma is starting to change in our society, slowly but surely. We hear more and more people sharing their own personal struggles with anxiety, depression, or other mental health disorders, and every time they do, it gives someone else permission to be open about their own mental health. We wouldn't even have known what our daughter's issue was if I hadn't read an article from someone sharing their emetophobia story and seen our daughter reflected perfectly in it. And as she was going through therapy, hearing about other people's experiences with counseling or managing mental illnesses helped her not feel like she was alone. She's doing great now, but we still talk about how thankful we are for the people who share their own mental health struggles.

Hopefully, adding mental health education in schools will help not only those kids who struggle with mental health issues, but also help the kids who don't better support those who do. Hopefully, it will help give kids the tools they need to manage their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Hopefully, it will help lessen the stigma surrounding mental illness and create a more open environment for people to share their experiences.

Hopefully, more states will follow in Florida's footsteps and start integrating mental health classes into the curriculum.

From Your Site Articles
Related Articles Around the Web

Doorbell camera catches boy's rant about mom's chicken

When you're a kid you rarely have a lot of say in what you get to eat for dinner. The adult in your house is the one that gets to decide and you have to eat whatever they put on your plate. But one little boy is simply tired of eating chicken and he doesn't care who knows it. Well, he cares if his mom knows.

Lacy Marie uploaded a video from her doorbell camera to TikTok her son. The little boy is caught on camera taking the trash out venting about always having to eat chicken. He rants all the way to the trash can, being sure to get it out of his system before he makes it back into the house.

"Chicken. No more chicken. Tell me you like, we have chicken every day. Eat this, eat that, eat more chicken, keep eating it," the 10-year-old complains. "It's healthy for you. Like, we get it. We have chicken every day."

Keep ReadingShow less

Doctor explains why he checks a dead patient's Facebook before notifying their parents

Louis M. Profeta MD explains why he looks at the social media accounts of dead patients before talking their parents.

Photo from Tedx Talk on YouTube.

He checks on your Facebook page.

Losing a loved one is easily the worst moment you'll face in your life. But it can also affect the doctors who have to break it to a patient's friends and family. Louis M. Profeta MD, an Emergency Physician at St. Vincent Emergency Physicians in Indianapolis, Indiana, recently took to LinkedIn to share the reason he looks at a patient's Facebook page before telling their parents they've passed.

The post, titled "I'll Look at Your Facebook Profile Before I Tell Your Mother You're Dead," has attracted thousands of likes and comments.

Keep ReadingShow less

A map of the United States post land-ice melt.

Land ice: We got a lot of it.

Considering the two largest ice sheets on earth — the one on Antarctica and the one on Greenland — extend more than 6 million square miles combined ... yeah, we're talkin' a lot of ice.

But what if it was all just ... gone? Not like gone gone, but melted?

Keep ReadingShow less

This is the best mother-daughter chat about the tampon aisle ever. Period.

A hilarious conversation about "the vagina zone" turned into an important message about patriarchy from mother to daughter.

A mother and daughter discuss period products.

Belinda Hankins and her 13-year-old daughter, Bella, seem to have a great relationship, one that is often played out over text message.

Sure they play around like most teens and parents do, but in between the joking and stealing of desserts, they're incredibly open and honest with each other. This is key, especially since Melinda is a single parent and thus is the designated teacher of "the ways of the world."

But, wow, she is a champ at doing just that in the chillest way possible. Of course, it helps having an incredibly self-aware daughter who has grown up knowing she can be super real with her mom.

Case in point, this truly epic text exchange took place over the weekend while Bella was hunting for tampons at the store.

Keep ReadingShow less

27-year-old who died of cancer left behind final advice that left the internet in tears

"Don't feel pressured to do what other people might think is a fulfilling life. You might want a mediocre life and that is so OK."

Photo courtesy of Remembering Holly Butcher/Facebook used with permission.

Holly Butcher left behind her best life advice before she passed away at 27.

The world said goodbye to Holly Butcher, a 27-year-old woman from Grafton, Australia.

Butcher had been battling Ewing's sarcoma, a rare bone cancer that predominantly affects young people. In a statement posted on Butcher's memorialized Facebook account, her brother, Dean, and partner, Luke, confirmed the heartbreaking news to friends.

"It is with great sadness that we announce Holly's passing in the early hours of this morning," they wrote on Jan. 4, 2018. "After enduring so much, it was finally time for her to say goodbye to us all. The end was short and peaceful; she looked serene when we kissed her forehead and said our final farewells. As you would expect, Holly prepared a short message for you all, which will be posted above."

Butcher's message, which Dean and Luke did, in fact, post publicly shortly thereafter, has brought the internet to tears.

Keep ReadingShow less

You know that feeling you get when you walk into a classroom and see someone else's stuff on your desk?

OK, sure, there are no assigned seats, but you've been sitting at the same desk since the first day and everyone knows it.

So why does the guy who sits next to you put his phone, his book, his charger, his lunch, and his laptop in the space that's rightfully yours? It's annoying.

Keep ReadingShow less