Growing up is a difficult thing. Our adolescents are full of confusing emotions, a wide spectrum of thoughts, and trying to figure out who we are in this world that we don’t know very well. Our views are limited and it’s not our fault, but it constricts our ways of thinking, causing us to feel certain things that are hard for us to manage sometimes. Small things that would normally be brushed off by an adult can seem like a monumental event for us when we are young. A lot of that comes from school.
School is a place where we feel the most responsibility. Our parents or guardians are not usually there, we are not at our home, so we are more inclined to feel like we are in control. But since we are still figuring so many things out, this feeling of responsibility can create problems. When we face social problems at school, we don’t have our family to go to. There are adults in place to try and help you, but we don’t often feel comfortable going to these people for help. This could be either because we don’t trust them or we don’t want to face more social stigmas from seeking help. Either way, school can create a vicious circle in our lives that creates plenty of mental issues with us. Unfortunately, mental illness is both a cause and an effect of social exclusion and problems at school, which makes the whole situation even harder for kids.
The Stigma of Mental Illness
For children with pre-existing conditions, school can be a place where they feel excluded and judged for their mental condition. As we have said before, youth are figuring things out, and so the idea of mental illness is still foreign to them. This is only made worse by the fact that education about mental illness hasn’t been the best. Though this is changing, there are still plenty of influences in a child’s life to cause them to wrongly view mental illness and what it means. This cycle of miscommunication can mean that someone who is struggling with a mental illness can be ostracized because of it. Other kids are not sure what to think about them, and their behavior that is attributed to their condition is viewed as wrong or off-putting. Because children are unequipped to cope with mental illness, they are more likely to ignore it or move away from it, leaving the child afflicted in a lonely place. It makes their condition worse, further deteriorating their emotional fortitude.
Environmental Causes of Mental Illness
Then there are kids who don’t have a mental condition, but their social interactions at school can cause one to develop. Sometimes, it isn’t just because a child is uninformed or uneducated, sometimes a child is just trying to put others down. Bullying is a very real issue and is prevalent throughout so much of our education system. This can cause a child to feel lonely and excluded, it can make them feel different or wrong, and they can feel like they are not good enough. All of these kinds of thoughts can be a lot for a child to handle, and their emotions can boil up, fester together, and mental illness can form from it. Again, there are resources in place but these aren’t necessarily offered the way they should be or viewed as a reliable source of comfort. A child can be left feeling alone and in their loneliness, these problems will form.
How to Cope
Either way, our youth are in need of better monitoring and better help. For teachers, you can be more aware, more observant of behavior, and you can be a positive influence in their lives. You can look out for the signs that these things are happening and you can help make the situation better. For those of us in administration, you can make the resources more inviting for them to seek. Create a way for seeking help to not be viewed as a negative thing, but a positive and take away the stigma of it being weak, and make it brave. And for parents, just be knowledgeable and involved in your child’s life at school. This doesn’t mean trying to physically be at the school all the time – let your child have their freedom – but just ask questions and check in on them frequently. Let them know you are there and that you care.
School is a difficult time for all of us in different ways. It can make pre-existing conditions worse or cause new conditions to form. We have to do our part to help make school better for children suffering from mental illness and more nurturing to combat the possibility of mental illness. We can make the world a better and more understanding place beyond just our own lives. Our youth need our help right now, and we have the power to help them. We can not only improve the present but improve the future as well.
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with anxiety or mental illness, do not hesitate to contact the team here at True Recovery. Our program, founded in 2014, is built around finding what’s best for you to overcome your addiction. Our facility is located in Newport Beach, California, with our supportive housing located close to our campus in Costa Mesa. Take advantage of the local beaches, nature preserves, and Orange County community while we fight for you. Contact us at (866) 399-6528.