Leon County Schools set to adopt mental health program

Photo courtesy of leonschools.net

Mental health covers a wide range, everything from someone’s emotional well-being to their psychological status and social well-being. It is also an area that is often overlooked, leaving people with no one to help them.

Students’ mental health is an extremely important subject since it has a major effect on their general well-being and academic performance, not to mention their future.

A study found that 5% of students do not finish their education due to psychiatric disorders, and it’s estimated that 4.5 million people would have graduated if they wouldn’t have experienced these disorders. However, the mental health of students doesn’t just affect the students, but the teachers and staff as well.

Tyreonna Brown, an education and communication and design student at Florida A&M, believes that students’ problems don’t stay in the classroom.

“Nowadays when we go home, we think that we’re leaving work at work but we’re not,” Brown said. “We’re kind of taking on that baggage and those struggles that we experience in the classroom home. When I was working as a preschool teacher, I would come home feeling bad like I didn’t help a kid out enough because I know that their parent wasn’t as hands-on and it made me feel sad that I couldn’t help them more.”

Faculty and staff spend most of their days with students, and they witness different behaviors from each of their students. They play a significant role in a child’s life. Teachers frequently make the decision about whether students visit the counselor’s office when they display indicators of a mental health concern. Students may end up in the principal’s office or with school nurse, or they may receive no care at all, if teachers mistake those signs.

The Leon County School Board recently voted unanimously to advertise for a mental health service. The new policy focuses on implementing a school-based mental health assistance program, which includes educating classroom teachers and other school personnel on how to recognize and address mental health issues. It would also allow school employees to connect children and families who might be dealing with behavioral issues with the right services.

Brown also believes that parents should also get more involved with their children’s education and mental health.

“It’s taking a toll on the teachers doing so much, having to be the parent and the teacher,” Brown said. “And the person that looks out for them and their friend at the same time. It becomes too much on the teacher when we should have more parent involvement.”

Brown said teachers could lose themselves dealing with students who are coping with complicated issues. So, she stands behind this policy and believes that it would help teachers tremendously.

A public hearing and adoption will be held when the board meets on Dec. 12.