Educate. Radiate. Elevate. is more than just an education-based nonprofit. We care about our students and their well-being. Many students in our nation are facing a range of mental health challenges that affect their studies, their relationships with their families, peers, and communities, and other various aspects of their lives. The top 10 diagnosable mental health issues include anxiety disorders, bipolar affective disorders, depression, dissociative disorders, eating disorders, paranoia, PTSD, psychosis, schizophrenia, and OCD. Many of our students are affected by these mental health issues, especially anxiety and depression. While teaching our students, E.R.E.’s tutors make deliberate efforts to remain conscious of their students’ mental health and approach them with a holistic and empathetic mindset.
Why Should We be Monitoring Mental Health Issues Now?
Have you ever experienced heightened feelings of anxiety, depression, fatigue, and a lack of motivation during the colder months? The article How Winter Affects Your Mental Health discusses Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), defined by UC Health as, “a type of depression that’s related to changes in the seasons, with symptoms beginning and ending at about the same time of each year (November to March).” While scientists have not found a proven cause, it is believed that SAD is mainly triggered by hormones that change due to weather and lack of sunlight.
Fluctuating hormones can cause mood swings and imbalances in the body’s neurotransmitters (our brain chemicals). These imbalances are a common cause of heightened mental health issues. SAD affects over 500,000 people in the US every winter, and its effects can last far past the season. As we still have some time left before spring arrives, it is especially important to monitor the mental health of our students, our friends, our family, and ourselves.
Taking Mental Health Issues Seriously
We often find ourselves focusing on our busy lives and issues in the world around us instead of looking inward. This is natural. We as humans tend to believe strongly in what is in front of us – what we can see, hear, and touch. Many times, this tendency to focus on outward things results in a lack of motivation to take the time to regularly look inward to check on our mental health state. Furthermore, our society has created negative stigmas regarding the importance – and even the existence – of mental health issues. A poll conducted by Universal Health Services in 2019 found that “Approximately 1 in 4 respondents did not believe depression, anxiety, substance use, eating disorders, or autism were a form of mental illness.” Our society as a whole has viewed mental health issues as shameful. This negative stigma has resulted in a flippant view of serious mental health issues. Not only are Depression, Anxiety, Substance Use, Eating Disorders, and Autism accepted forms of mental illness in medical terms, they are very serious and can be extremely impactful in one’s life. Mental illnesses can result in significant changes in behavior and mood, excessive fear or anger, suicidal thoughts, and more. These symptoms change lives.
Mental Health Issues Affecting Students
Mental health issues affect many people in our nation, including a significant amount of students. In its overview of the impact of mental health issues, HealthyPeople.gov included the poignant statistic: “In 2010, 1 in 5 children in the United States had a mental health disorder.” The most common mental health issue students are facing is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. ADHD often negatively affects students’ ability to focus during class and exams, which can result in lower grades and scores.
Other mental health issues such as Anxiety and Depression often negatively affect students’ behavior, performance, learning, self-care practices, and self-esteem, according to the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards. When students are anxious or are experiencing feelings of sadness, fatigue, and hopelessness, they do not have the energy needed to focus in class and complete assignments. It is important to monitor students’ mental health, as they deserve every chance to succeed in school and live a healthy life.
How to Monitor Students’ Mental Health
While professional diagnoses and treatments of mental health issues should be made by licensed therapists, there are signs to look for that can indicate mental health issues a student may be facing. If you have noticed changes in behavior or performance in the student, if the student has mentioned experiencing difficulty socializing and/or taking care of themself, or if the student has low self-esteem, you may want to consider exploring the issues further by scheduling a therapy appointment. To learn more about mental health issues a student may be facing before suggesting counseling, Mental Health America (MHA) provides free mental health screenings. If you believe a student may be experiencing feelings of depression or thinking suicidal thoughts, we also suggest sharing the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK.
Educate. Radiate. Elevate. provides tutoring for low-income, BIPOC students in the Dallas, Houston, and Chicago areas. We utilize Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) methods, which creates a healthy and positive learning environment for students who are facing a wide range of issues, including mental health illnesses. As defined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning, SEL is “the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain supportive relationships, and make responsible and caring decisions.”
A few Social-Emotional methods E.R.E. uses include incorporating brain-stimulating activities into learning, taking mindful breaks to heighten the students’ self-awareness, and setting aside time to assess the students’ emotional states. Our SEL methods increase our students’ confidence, motivation, engagement, and learning independence, and they often aid in fighting the effects mental health issues have on students’ education. We are dedicated to improving the lives of our students through unique learning methods, elevating their education, and shaping them into citizens who are active agents of change in their communities. If you feel motivated to support E.R.E.’s efforts, you can donate here!