Students often find that high school is a time filled with stress and anxiety. According to Psychology Today, 25 percent of teens suffer from some form of an anxiety disorder. Due to the prevalence of mental health disorders in society, May is Mental Health Awareness month. In order to better prepare students for the effects of mental health on their lives, the physical education department carried out a new program with the sophomore class to better inform students about how to deal with things such as depression or anxiety.
Teen Mental Health First Aid, the name of this program, was helped funded by Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation. Freedom High School was one of the few schools piloting this program. The main goal of the course was to inform students on how mental health impacts their future, and the importance of maintaining strong mental health. Along with this, students learned how to identify if someone was struggling with mental health problems and how to help their friends if they are suffering from depression.
“The most important thing I learned was the text line for mental health,” said sophomore Elizabeth Seager. “I think it’s important because it’s such a useful option when you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone you know.”
In order to prepare for the program, the P.E. teachers went through extensive training. Over the course of three days, they had three seven-hour training sessions, where they were given the information they would be teaching. They also had the opportunity to receive feedback from the national trainers.
“Students at Freedom seemed to enjoy the exit tickets each day as a daily check-in,” said Robyn Freedman-Schnapp, P.E. teacher. “The only thing that was challenging for us was incorporating the material this late in the year was other programs and testing going on in the school.”
This course provided high schools students with a wealth of knowledge on how to better combat mental health. The students had a generally positive outlook on the course and found it beneficial if they ever needed to assist another student.
“I don’t particularly dislike any of the subjects we talked about, however, I think this courses should cover more on how to deal with someone’s mental state before it starts to decrease,” said sophomore Michael Scott. “Such as how to deal with bullying and traumas if you have them. This might be beneficial to learn so you can avoid your mental state decreasing.”
While mental health has been more commonly accepted in society, it is still widely taboo to talk about it so openly. This class provided the sophomore class with the ability to help others in regards to their mental health.
“I believe that teens should be exposed to programs like this one because they have the power to save lives, and why not let it be your friend?” Freedman- Schnapp said.