[Opinion] Mental disorders continue to be overlooked in schools


Mariapaz Santacoloma

Student’s mental health is being overlooked by the school system. Students are struggling to focus assignments on time due to mental disorders such as ADHD, depression and anxiety.

Mariana Neri Sapori, Writer

The ideas expressed in this article are representative of the author, not Eagle Eye News or Broward County Public Schools.

After seeing an increase in students’ mental health affecting their academic performance, numerous schools have begun to take behavioral health interventions. Many students are unable to focus or turn in assignments on time due to underlying mental disorders such as ADHD, OCD, depression and anxiety. While schools have addressed ways to work with those students, the issue still stands.

According to the Child Mind Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to research of children’s mental disorders, half of teenagers dealing with mental disorders are followed by learning difficulties at the age of 14.

There is simply not enough accessible care to address this crisis and aid the students in need, meaning measures must be taken to prevent further problems. Schools have offered treatment plans such as the 504 plan, but the long process of paperwork to get this accommodation makes it harder for students to quickly get this plan. A 504 plan is a blueprint set to help students with a disability and lessen difficulties in learning, such as extra time on assignments or tests. The process should be shortened and easily accessible to all students that show signs of a learning disability.

Schools may not notice the emotional problems students have to deal with unless they truly begin to interfere with academic performance. Instead of observing the way students behave, school districts should begin to look into why they behave certain ways. A sudden drop in a good student’s grades is unusual and should be looked into instead of being ignored.

Another issue is that therapy may not be easily accessible to students, meaning more school counselors should be involved in the discussion of the mental health of these students. They are specifically trained to help those facing social and emotional problems and should be exposed more to students. It is essential for counselors and students to build strong relationships in order to maintain a healthy school environment.

These mental disorders can be recognized and treated if schools were to do more research on these behaviors and ways to accommodate and work with students. It is better to intervene than wait for the last minute when a student is clearly calling for help. This will benefit not only the student’s accomplishments but how the school is seen and involved with mental health training.

A study in 2021 by the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools stated that students that get behavioral health interventions have shown improvements in academic achievements such as study habits and problem-solving skills.

On a good note, some schools have taken measures in which they provide better time management for students by allowing them to spend more time on assignments and tests, hiring more school counselors to discuss social or emotional problems, and acknowledging mental problems among the student population by providing presentations such as the mental health mandate course on Canvas.

The acknowledgement is the first step to the treatment process of these students who struggle in the school environment. Services should exist in many forms to help the student population and the way they can deal with their problems. Even with services available, schools should present these services and ensure that students know that they are able to reach out for help. This will not only improve their performances, but most importantly their mental health. A student’s well-being must be acknowledged for successful learning and a healthy relationship with themselves.