Well, Friday was officially my last day of teaching. This weekend I was organizing and copying some files in my Google Drive. I happily stumbled upon this presentation from my education coursework.
While the intended audience for this presentation is children ages 9-10, I feel that that the overall message and suggested practices are applicable to any age group.
I must stress how important it is to talk about mental health with children and adolescents. My OCD first reared its head when I was only six years old. It subsided for a while and came back fully fledged at age eleven. Children need to know that they have the power to self-regulate their emotions and thoughts. They need to be taught these skills.
I was happy that at the school where I worked, they taught coping strategies in their counseling lessons. I also enjoyed doing yoga with my students during a brain break, practicing a fun breathing exercise, or simply stretching. That alone is not enough. I hope that positive mental health practices and discussion will become a regular part of every classroom in our country. From elementary schools to universities across our country, there is a general disparity of learners’ mental health needs and an institutions’ resources.
I found my own university, Penn State, lacking in this department. I even wrote a speech about it for my CAS 100 class. I was happy to learn that an option in voting for our senior gift was to increase funding for the counseling and psychological services (CAPS). Well, that vote was a no brainer. I was not surprised when the results were announced, and that option won. See more details here:
I had personally sought help from CAPS. After a pre-screening, I found myself on a 6 week waiting list. Um. No. I need help now. I ended up seeing a therapist in downtown State College instead–which was actually for the better since she was incredible at her job. I saw her the rest of the way through college. I was never okay with it though. What of the others who went to CAPS, were told to wait 6 weeks, and perhaps could not afford to see a therapist downtown? A university as large scale as Penn State should have increased their mental health services long before 2016.
Don’t get me wrong– I love Penn State. I believe it’s a nationwide, if not worldwide, problem. I don’t think people outside of the realm of mental illness understand its scope. OCD alone affects 1 in 40 people. Think about that number, and then remember that OCD is just one of many common mental health conditions. As I grow older, I find that more and more of my friends also suffer from mental health conditions. Mental health disorders are not uncommon.
I am not an expert in healthcare or counseling services by any means. I don’t have an answer of how to remedy this problem. I just know it’s not enough. Not yet. I hope to see that in my lifetime.