Overlooked in the Education System Essay Example

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  • Published: 11 May 2021
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 An American dies by suicide every 12.3 minutes, while another million attempt suicide each year (“Teens and Suicide”). The desire to commit suicide varies but it undeniably originates from a mental disorder; this disorder is none other than depression. Depression is the leading cause of suicide. Depression is a detrimental disease. However, a number of people argue that depression is not a real illness. The fact that depression is the fundamental incentive to suicide, in the United States, provides insight into the reality of depression’s existence. Hence, high schools should develop a mental health program to increase awareness about adolescent depression because it is a real illness and it could develop into suicidal thoughts or actions if it is not addressed adequately. 

Depression is a real mental illness and needs to be acknowledged by high schools. Depression is as consequential as any other illnesses such as cancer. “When a person has depression, it interferes with daily life and normal functioning [...] Many factors may play a role in depression, including genetics, brain biology and chemistry, and life events such as trauma...” (Marano). Depression is not a disease that a person desires to have. Depression involves brain chemistry and genetic factors. Depression is not a choice. In most cases, it out of a person's control, especially during the teenage years. Teenage years are critical for mental development, but depression interferes with these developments (Teen Depression).

Matter of fact, one article explains how dysfunctional the brain can be when one has depression. For an average person, glutamine is produced at a steady pace. However, when a person has depression, the neurons are overstimulated. This overstimulation can cause neurons to communicate abnormally (Marano). When this occurs, the proteins responsible for accelerating signals are eradicated, thus preventing serotonin —the hormone responsible for joy signaling— from being generated. This process influences how a person may react and perceive their circumstances.

Thus, depression is a real illness because there are impairments in the brain. Some people have argued that depression is not real stating: it does not have any physical symptoms and that there is no method to measure brain activity to diagnose depression. These claims are illogical. There are physical symptoms that accompany depression. National Institute of Mental Health (NIHM) proposed a list of physical symptoms including weight change, fatigue, changes in appetite, and sleeping difficulties (Marano). Furthermore, there are methods to calculate the brains activity. One article published from Advance Science Letter, explains the process of scanning the brains activity while being exposed to certain images and situations. The scanning displayed that people who have depression have areas of the brain that are more active (Marano). Ergo, depression is a real illness because it affects a person physically and mentally.

In addition to being a real illness, depression also prevents a person to cognitively function at his or best ability, which can cause him or her to have suicidal thoughts or resort suicide itself. Usually, people who have depression have “difficulty concentrating and thinking clearly” (Marano). This is due to the disruptive structure and function of the brain cells; some nerves are destroyed or are connected at abnormal rates. Neurotransmitter deficiencies cut off brain circuits, causing them to struggle with memory and motivation. The lack of concentration and motivation can lead to suicidal thoughts and school failure (Marano).

When a students’ energy is consumed to compensate for physical symptoms of depression and is struggling to get the neurons to work properly, he or she will be less successful. Students who have depression lack amygdala, thus they struggle to communicate emotionally. These interpersonal situations can increase the probability of suicidal thoughts because they are unable to verbalize their mental state (“Teens and Suicide”). These suicidal thoughts can manifest into the action itself. He or she could have a personality change, drastic changes in habit, and/ or dramatic mood swings. If these signs go undetected, the teen will often commit suicide (“Teen and Suicide”). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the preponderance of teens who do commit suicide have had psychological turmoil leading them to end their lives by utilizing a firearm. Other teens resort to poisoning and suffocation as a method of self-destruction because they believe that suicide is the only way to end the torment (“Teens and Suicide”).

Students with depression lack coping skills that enable them to respond to cognitive stressors and thus they resort to physical aggression because they have not been provided the opportunity to effectively propose peaceful resolutions (“Suicide Prevention”). Fundamentally, schools are supposed to be a safe haven for students, where they are able to learn, feel protected, and express themselves. However, these qualities have been compromised because students’ mental health has not been ensured. Many suicides could be prevented if onset depression is detected at its premature stages and is addressed properly. Since depression is the leading cause of teen suicide, treatment of it should be the first prevention of suicide. It can be ascertained that “teachers [...] are the primary sources to observe and gather information concerning the behavioral problems of children and adolescents” (Kirchner), thus it is critical for teachers to be able to recognize behaviors of mental illnesses and should furthermore attend a mental health program to educated about the matter before a student takes the initiative to commit suicide.

Besides affecting students ability to cognitively function, students with depression have struggled with behaviors. The lack of knowledge about depression causes teachers to be unable to accommodate students who are affected by it. Numerous students in school are chastised by adults for being impulsive or engaging in disruptive behaviors, which can be reasonable, however, often there is a correlation between these behaviors and depression. When a student has depression, the amygdala (which controls impulses) is unable to function at its utmost potential. Students who lack amygdala are more likely to develop patterns of aggression due to their constraints of cognitive development (“Teen Depression”) causing them to have behavioral impulses.

Teachers —who are not trained about mental health— often assume that the student failed to succeed because they were indolent or did not prioritize the work; so, they punish the student instead of accommodating for the student. Rather than fostering a supportive environment, by facilitating or accommodating for the students, teachers misunderstand the confliction. Thus, the student ends up being overlooked. Some people argue that schools do accommodate for students mental and physical needs. They have counselors. They have nurses. They have social workers. This is genuine. However, these types of accommodations are not enough. Often these professionals have a packed caseload, making it difficult to schedule an appointment with. Moreover, they are often in a building as part-time workers (Garfinkel). Thus, it can be particularly onerous for a student to reach out to them during a time of urgency.

One source even reports how school health centers have nurses and social workers, but of these professionals, only 20% of them can diagnose and give treatment to mental illnesses (Garfinkel). This makes it more challenging for students to accurately be diagnosed and treated. In addition to that, students’ success in the educational system depends on his or her mental and physical stability and the first people in the school system to detect changes in a student is a teacher. Teachers interact with students daily; if teachers cannot detect a students’ mental illness, especially depression, the student will not seek help.

Thus, counselors, nurses, and social workers are of little help because teachers do not take the initiative to bring students symptoms to attention. If teachers attend a mental health program they will be more aware of how their students are behaving and aid the student to seek professional help. In fact, schools in Australia have been endeavoring a mental health program since 2000. Teachers who participated in the 9-month program reported that their “ability to identify, recognize, and understand the lifetime course of depression was only fair to average. However, at the end of the course [...] the majority rated their knowledge as good to excellent [...] their knowledge of potential interventions with and ability to respond to a depressed or a depressed/suicidal student was within the good to excellent range” (Kirchner). If the education system in the United States is genuinely concerned about their students, it would provide a mental health program so that teachers can better intervene and communicate with the students. 

Overall, depression is overlooked by schools due to the lack of knowledge and the belief that depression is not real. Evidence has shown that depression is indeed real and can interfere with students’ cognitive performance. Thus, it is crucial that schools have a mental health program to raise awareness about depression; so, that students who have depression can be accommodated for. While schools have grand intentions and attempt to aid students, more needs to be done in order to prevent a student from being one of the 12.3 million to people to commit suicide.

Works Cited

Garfinkel, Stephen, and John J. Schlitt. “Where The Kids Are.” State Government News (n.d.): n. 

(2006): n. pag. SIRS Issues Researcher. Web.  

Kirchner, Joann E., Et Al. "Development Of An Educational Program To Increase School Personnel's Awareness About Child And Adolescent Depression." Education, Vol. 121, No. 2, 2000, P. 235. Student Resources In Context. Accessed 11 Mar. 2019.

Marano, Hara Estroff. “Depression: Beyond Serotonin.” Psychology Today, Mar. 1999, p. 30. Student Resources In Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A53985475/SUIC?u=deka56893&sid=SUIC&xid=32e57f0e. Accessed 12 Mar. 2019.

"Suicide Prevention." Gale Student Resources in Context, Gale, 2016. Student Resources In Context,http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/QDVYPH203795441/SUIC?u=deka56893&sid=SUIC&xid=440f3fc0. Accessed 12 Mar. 2019.

"Teen Depression." Gale Student Resources in Context, Gale, 2018. Student Resources In Context,http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/EYUTTD025301928/SUIC?u=deka56893&sid=SUIC&xid=f04240e6. Accessed 12 Mar. 2019.

"Teens and Suicide." Gale Student Resources in Context, Gale, 2018. Student Resources In Context, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/EJ2181500293/SUIC?u=deka56893&sid=SUIC&xid=92762e1f. Accessed 14 Mar. 2019.

 

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