Mental health awareness
December 17, 2019
As of this year, the state of Florida requires a mental health course to be taught to all students in sixth grade or above for at least five hours each school year. The first session, on Nov. 4, answered the question, “what is mental health?” This section explained the basics and that mental heath is not a negative thing. Following Nov. 4 and Nov. 18, there will be sessions during homeroom once a month in between first and second period. The course is taught in homeroom classes to separate the grade levels; later on, the sessions will become more personalized for each grade level.
Teachers have been scheduled during the school day to teach students about mental health. As needed as this might be for students, some teachers do not think that it is the best idea.
Teachers understand the importance of this initiative, but the way that the program executed is frustrating to most of the teachers.
“I think that the information that was in there is wonderful information that should be shared with the students; with that being said I think that the delivery of it is a little bland. I think the whole point of the mental health awareness is allowing kids to open up and discuss their problems, and I think that’s something more personal rather than having an overall program that explains all this stuff,” said Mr. Rose.
Teachers thought that some students take it seriously, and some do not, saying that students will only take away as much as they want to from this program. This mental health awareness is mandated by the state, but it is up to the students if they want to accept the information that they are given.
The Florida School Board of Education now requires public schools to have a minimum of five hours of mental education per year, starting from sixth grade. Florida is now the third state to go through with this bill.
“The website was okay, definitely repetitive when we were supposed to go from the first story to the next story. If we have to do four of those it’s going to be very repetitive. They also didn’t really outline what we needed to get through very well; they’re like ‘here go through this stuff during the time that your given’ and even with starting right away, I didn’t get through all of the materials,” said Mr. Siedel.
Mr. Mills also shared similar concerns based on how he felt about the program and why the state has now made it mandatory to add to the students’ schedule.
“This puzzles me, all of the things that we’re doing, character ed, mental health, stress management, all those things are in the H.O.P.E curriculum, which is a required course for graduation. I’m sure that the state mandating this is all data-driven, I just don’t know what data indicates that this is not being done in H.O.P.E. class,” said Mr. Mills.
The students expressed mixed emotions about the new mental health course mandated by the state. While some enjoyed the first session and found it beneficial, many felt otherwise. A variety of students gave their honest opinion about the course and how to possibly improve it.
Senior Julianna Miller voiced her views on this topic. Overall, she found the first session boring. She said the reason for this might have been that her teacher was as uneducated on this topic as the students might have been. As the sessions go on, however, the students and the teacher will become more familiar with the program and it will all run more smoothly and effectively.
“I think it’ll have a good effect on the students, if they teach it right,” said Miller.
On the other hand, junior Elaana Jaworski enjoyed the course and found it very beneficial. Though there were some flaws, there was nothing major that she disliked after the first session of the mental health course. Overall, she learned a lot but just wished the course went more into detail about everything.
“I like it, personally. I just wish it was more in depth,” stated Jaworski, “All those long paragraphs and everything… I don’t like,” Jaworski went on to say.
In addition, more insight was given by sophomore Destin Gollamudi. Like the others, Gollamudi was quick to give his honest advice on how to possibly improve this new state-mandated course. He would have gotten a lot more out of the first session if it had run more smoothly. Gollamudi thought the course was needed due to the increase in school shootings, especially in the state of Florida. However, he believed teaching students about their mental health could be approached in a different way.
“My homeroom teacher didn’t know how to work the software and we got through a fourth [of the session], so I didn’t learn much,” said Gollamudi. “Maybe not making it a computer-based course, but having an actual person that knows how to talk about [mental health] and mentor multiple classes at once, possibly.”
Furthermore, freshman Elijah Hager thought the first section was monotonous. Like Gollamudi, he thought that there were better ways to approach the topic, leading to better results in the mental health awareness of students. While he thought this way, he agreed that the course was definitely a must-have in the state of Florida.
“Its almost factory like,” said Elijah Hager. “It would be more helpful if they made everyone aware of factors or symptoms of kids who are depressed or have mental problems and then make them tell an administrator, and the administrators need to act.”
All in all, the students gave lots of insight concerning the mental health awareness course. Much of this information was helpful and could possibly be used to improve way this information is taught. All of the students agreed that the course was not, in fact, useless but very much needed and would eventually prove to be useful in the future.