“Kids are falling through the cracks and nobody notices it. That to me is what’s wrong with the school system.” – Melinda Gates
The educational system is rich in topics for us to learn: English, math, science, etc.; however it is lacking in the education on learning disorders and mental health for the school staff. School can be difficult for youth as it is, which can be heightened further with undiagnosed issues or educators not understanding how they affect a student’s learning process. I believe if educators had a higher level of training in understanding how learning disabilities and (at least the most) common mental health diagnoses affect how one learns and/or focuses, along with how to spot them it could make learning easier for the youth that are struggling.
When I was in school I was going to see a therapist and I had fairly regular appointments, which unfortunately meant I had to leave early from class those days to make the appointment. The teacher I had that block was very understanding on the matter; however my vice principal was not as lenient. My vice principal one day pulled me into her office wanting to know where I went when I had to leave early, to which I responded honestly telling her I went to see a therapist and where my appointments were. From there she went on to demand to know who they were with and wanting to speak to them. When I told her that she had no need to know that information, she threatened me with expulsion. For her to talk with my therapist I would have to first give my therapist permission to talk with her, which I was not comfortable with. My vice principal pulled up the page of therapists who worked at the facility I was going to and was trying to figure out which one I was seeing, she went as far as to try and contact all of them, I felt like all my rights were taken from me at that moment. My parents were dragged into this mess that was created and it went from ugly to worse.
At the time I had not been officially diagnosed with anything specific besides ADHD, we were still working on diagnosing what we now know is bipolar type II but at the time had just labeled as depression. This is information I was not very willing to share with many people, nor was it of anyone else’s concern at the time, as it was not impacting my learning besides having to leave early from class. However it got me thinking that if that is how my vice principal handled my situation how would they handle another student struggling with a mental disorder. My vice principal’s blatant disrespect for the confidentiality between a therapist and client concerned me; how would they handle a similar or worse situation with another student. Their careless, insensitive, and under educated approach to the matter could cause a lot of unneeded stress and damage to someone’s mental state.
When it comes to one’s mental health and how others actions affect the person dealing with a mental disorder it can feel like you’re running through a mine field if you are not fully aware of what repercussions your actions can bring. Which is why I think the educators should be well educated on not only mental health but also the legal boundaries surrounding mental health. Whether or not a student wants to share that they are struggling with their mental health, the people we put in charge of their education should be fully aware of what boundaries (legal or personal) they cannot cross and fully equipped to help their student’s excel even if they are struggling with their mental health.
No one should be alone when they need someone there the most. Sometimes having a teacher put the effort in making sure you have the tools you need to succeed makes the difference between graduating or not.
Stay Strong. Stay Brave. Keep Fighting Lovies,
Marie Olsson xx