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Why do you think schools need mental health counsellors?

“Why do you think schools need mental health counsellors?”

As someone who has struggled with the psychological side effects of being dependent on our education system for around nine years now, I can not stress enough the importance this subject holds for me. I am sure others can sympathise with me on feeling disheartened for not living up to your parent’s expectation or say dealing with sleepless nights before an important presentation due to the nerve-wracking stress of speaking in front of people and yet gone to school the next day or any other nightmarish situation. We spend the majority of our youth at educational institutions, places that expect you to behave as if you don’t have lives outside of the time you spend there. As if kids don’t go home to unstable and often dangerous families, as if children don’t get bullied and harassed and assaulted right inside those walls. Where the authorities claim to be people you can trust and then turn a blind eye to students struggling right in front of, and often because, of them.

Students have certain duties, yes, but they’re also kids and more importantly, human. There’s more to them than their ability to memorize facts or their attendance. They struggle with their emotions just as adults do, disorders and mental illnesses don’t pick and choose age groups to affect. We need to stop pretending the kids are alright, because they aren’t and they won’t be until the people in charge recognize that we have our own boundaries, that there’s a limit to what we can and can’t do, and that all of this differs from one kid to the other. All students are struggling and they might be struggling in different ways but they all still matter and deserve help.

Considering the way schools have handled the very fragile matter of mental health in the past, it’s not guaranteed that mental health counsellors would even be up to par once appointed or if they would be allowed to actually do their job, rather than just follow school mandated guidelines but it’d definitely be a start. It would be a way of showing students that you understand what’s happening with them, and that you want to help rather than sit back and watch it happen. A person that can tell teenagers that they’re not strange or stupid or overreacting about their own thoughts and feelings might just be what kids need. Children need to be told that they’re not abnormal for feeling things; they need to be taught how to process it in the healthiest way possible.

A form of support in schools is also necessary because there are always kids who can’t afford therapy or treatment for serious disorders, who don’t have the courage to tell their parents that they need help, kids who might not even realize they need therapy. They would be able to have access to something that should already be mandatory because some also have a lack of privilege that bars them from the support they need in life. Troubled children come in every shape and form, disorders don’t pick and choose from genders, races, religions etc either.

School is a traumatic experience for many who have gone through it, and mental health counsellors would be a step towards actually making the entire ordeal a better one.

-Gauri Khan

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