The United States has recognized May as Mental Health Month since 1949. In May, mental health organizations work with other members of the community to raise awareness about mental health problems. However, the question remains: what else can be done to create much-needed awareness about mental health?
A month dedicated to mental health is a good start, but it began in 1949. Every day, our children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, sisters, and brothers can suffer mental problems that they do not know. As a result, the nation is in crisis due to numerous tragedies that take place in schools.
Parents abandon their children at school with the growing fear that this is the last time they say goodbye to their children.
During the first two weeks of the new year, there were 14 school shootings on school campuses across the country. Unrecognized and untreated mental health problems are often the main speculation about why these bloody crimes were committed. The suspects of these crimes are between 12 and 23 years old.
Because mental illness accounts for approximately one-third of youth disease, mental health remains an urgent problem that must be addressed in the United States. In addition to being responsible for teaching younger generations the importance of health in nutrition and exercise, it is also our responsibility to teach our children about their mental health.
In an attempt to increase knowledge about mental health problems among today’s youth, California adopted in 2013 a new law that requires the addition of an appropriate age program on mental health to the Education Code. This law clearly states that all public schools in the state of California need to change their health framework to include the integration of mental health education for grades K-12.
Some of the topics to be discussed in the new curriculum include warning signs, symptoms, and definitions of common disorders, how to obtain mental health services and knowledge to overcome stigma. In addition, promoting the well-being of mental health, such as social connectivity, will also include the importance of supportive relationships and cognitive skills.
As a result of the new law, the California State Board of Education and the Instruction Quality Committee must now develop a mental health curriculum to be implemented in the next revision of the California Public Schools Health Framework. However, the review of the health framework has been postponed twice since its publication, which postponed the next update date for the 2015-2016 academic year.
Because mental health has become such an urgent issue, the students of the Master of Social Work (MSW) at the University of Southern California collaborated with high school instructors in Orange County and Los Angeles to create and implement a mental health curriculum for the ninth, to raise the health class.
The proposed mental health program consists of four learning modules that can be integrated into an existing health program. The learning modules were in line with the guidelines established in the new law, covering topics related to mental health, online safety and a list of community mental health resources for students.
The students of the Ministry of the Interior gave the health instructor the Mental Health Month brochure, which could be distributed to the students in May. A high school health instructor plans to include educational modules in her lesson plan during Mental Health Month.
We hope that other local schools take the initiative to integrate mental health problems into their classes. We also hope that other countries recognize the importance of mental health education for young people and consider implementing this new law. Let’s work together to improve the future generations of America!