September 1, 2021 6:05 PM
Dear James Peyser, Massachusetts Secretary of Education,
My name is Jaida Pina; I am a 17-year-old rising senior at Jeremiah E. Burke High. I am writing to you today regarding the lack of mental health support in our school systems. We spend hours a day learning things, which I'm sorry to say 99% of the time we forget, only to go home and deal with more mental stress. After a year of living in isolation, our generation has grown accustomed to keeping everything to themselves. I mean can you blame them? Before the pandemic, our generation was well known for having high mental health illnesses and being away from society has increased those numbers even more. We have adapted to this lifestyle, and it's the reason why the mental health epidemic has continued to grow in this country. To combat this we need to take immediate action and implement mental health classes in schools all over Massachusetts.
Every day thousands of people around the world struggle with their mental health. They beg, they plead and they fight, and yet no one helps them get up. As a student, I see the effects of lacking mental health support daily. Schools refuse to admit that mental health is a big issue in our generation, and in doing so, it continues to go untouched. Iowa’s College of Education wrote that students are experiencing higher levels of anxiety, depression and trauma than previous generations. Due to this, 14% of students experienced at least one depressive episode at some point in their life. 59% of those students did not receive any mental health service. Furthermore, they stated that any traumatic event children go through can lead to an increase of depression if it is left unaddressed without any way to cope with it. We can no longer allow this issue to go unsolved. Massachusetts needs to take action.
Future generations cannot follow in our footsteps. Schools need to implement daily check-ins with students and provide a mental health class that's required for all students to take at some point in their school career. If Massachusetts mandates a mental health class educating students on illnesses and how they can cope with them, it will help hundreds of kids feel like they can get through it and that they aren’t alone. In 2018, New York and Virginia created mental health classes with no requirements, so it never got pushed the way it should. The idea was to require schools to educate students in all grades on mental illnesses and, in turn, prevent the increase of mental health illnesses within their communities. If we adopted this mindset and looked into the class they created, all the information is there and we can see change. These classes can include relaxation methods, different types of mental illnesses and how to deal with them and so much more. If we do this we will see growth in our kids, and we will allow our future generations to end the cycle. Don’t let these kids become another statistic with no idea how to get out of it.
If we look into this more and consider creating mental health classes and providing daily check-ins with students, we can see more motivation within our youth. Not only that, but more kids will feel better in social settings, and there will be more participation in schools, which in turn will lead to higher test scores and overall more community in schools. If we want to decrease the number of mental health issues in our youth, we need to start applying support systems in our schools. Don’t ignore the issue any longer; be a part of the change.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. I hope it finds you well.