FCPS Taking New Approach on Mental Health

Leigha Plugge, Writer

FCPS is planning to prioritize students’ mental health next year, in hopes to create a more educational and safer environment for everyone.

Students often express their complaints, which usually seem to be overlooked. Though these students have some great ideas on how to make schools a more safe and enjoyable environment.

Jayden Frostburg, a senior at Governor Thomas Johnson High School (GTJHS), voiced his complaints on why the school system has not done the best at helping students with their mental health. He talks about how the schools don’t take into consideration different ways that students may learn. “When a student needs accommodations they feel as if there is something wrong, or lesser, about them.  When a student can not perform as well as their peers there is not a system to help them get back on track provided by the school.”

Jayden goes on to mention students who have other issues besides school that make it so their focus is no longer on their education. He believes that the strict deadlines and homework are an unrealistic goal for high schools. “If high school is to prepare students for college, higher education, and the real world, then why are there rigid deadlines and copious amounts of work that are not there in college?” Jayden has had some bad experiences with teachers. “I have had teachers refuse to give me extensions, excused work, or try and teach me in a different way….as an autistic person with ADHD, focus and the method I truly learn and absorb information is different.”

Jayden has insightful ideas on how FCPS schools can help students with their mental health.  He said that therapy is a very important part to keep people healthy, and schools should offer more choices to therapy and counseling.  “All staff need to be informed on neurodiversity and mental health, and how it affects a student trying to learn. The lack of understanding and ignorance creates a divide when trying to teach and communicate to a student.” Knowledge of basic mental health and issues are important to understand and acknowledge when working with students.

Many other students have voiced their concerns, and can agree that schools do not do the best job at creating a safe environment for kids, yet they all agree that prioritizing and helping students with their mental health will benefit their education, creating an environment where students want to learn. “They make students do things they are not comfortable with and assign too much homework.” says Georgia Miar, a senior at Linganore High School. She believes that schools need to include activities for those students with anxiety.

Some students do not feel as though the school does anything about their mental health. “They don’t seem to think of mental health as a priority so they are more willing to put their agenda before their students.” Yumiko Cahill says, a junior at GTJHS. Prioritizing mental health in schools will also allow students to have a better advantage in their education. “Students with mental health issues often suffer the most when it comes to grades and school work. If they had the right help and people to talk too, they would be able to cope with their disorder and get the work that they need done.” Cahill says.

Schools can do a much better job at assisting their students, especially with something as complex as mental health. Many times students don’t know how or what their feelings are, much less how to cope with these emotions. Creating a safe environment, with the right tools and knowledge, can really help a student’s motivation and education.