Student Mental Health: How to Protect It

There is a silent epidemic sweeping American schools. Mental health disorders are becoming increasingly common among younger children. There are many factors that may contribute to this, including the rise of social media and a more competitive academic environment. Regardless of causes, student mental health problems are a serious issue. Here at Summit Disability Law Group, we know the devastating effect mental health disorders can have on a family. In this post, we hope to provide some useful advice about treating these conditions.

Student Mental Health Problems: Possible Contributing Factors

There are many theories about why student mental health seems to be getting worse. Technology and the large amount of stress children face at school are perhaps two of the most prominent contributing factors.

Technology

Some estimations suggest that children now spend five to seven hours in front of a screen every day. When children are sitting in front of a screen, they are mentally and physically inactive. Too much inactivity can stunt their physical and emotional development. The incredible popularity of social media may also harm some children’s mental health. Online bullying and comparisons to classmate’s seemingly perfect profiles can seriously affect a child’s self-esteem and thought processes.

Stress

Modern children experience greater anxiety than those of previous generations. 80% of children today feel overwhelmed by responsibilities, and 50% experience anxiety that negatively affects their schoolwork. Academic pressures cause high levels of stress. Teachers and administrators question young people about their college and career plans as soon as they enter high school, if not earlier. This can make stress and anxiety problems much worse.

Possible Ways to Help

Student mental health problems are on the rise, but that does not mean there are no solutions. There are many different ways in which these problems can be treated.

Free Play

Many scientists believe that allowing children more time to play on their own can improve mental health. These scientists say that free play, through adolescence, is key to preventing things like anxiety and depression.

Try limiting your child’s screen time — encourage them to go outside and explore the world. Try to allow them to be independent, and minimize the amount of academic pressure you place on them. Independent, mentally healthy children will be better equipped to take on the challenges of school and adulthood.

Medical Care

Many children with mental health conditions do not get the medical care they need. Some may be nervous or uncertain about talking with parents and other adults about their issues. It can also be difficult to find adequate mental health care in their community, or that is covered by their insurance. If you notice signs of extreme stress, anxiety, or other mental health conditions in your child, try to talk to them and seek medical advice if necessary.

Legal Resources for Disabled Individuals

While many student mental health problems are manageable with lifestyle changes and treatment, some mental illnesses can be permanently disabling. If someone in your family has mental illness that severely impacts their ability to function, they may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. For more information about whether children may qualify, see our article on Child Disability Benefits.

Summit Disability Law Group is dedicated to helping its clients win benefits. In order to answer your questions fully, we offer free copies of our book, The Utah Social Security Disability Handbook.  We also offer free initial consultations to review your case.  If you think you may qualify for benefits, please contact us today.

 

Photo “Student studying” copyright by UBC Learning Commons.