Teen mental health should be a priority in the education system

Mental health

Local teens are experiencing stressors never imagined in the past — vaping, social media pressure, school shootings and the opioid epidemic — the list goes on. In addition to these challenges, COVID-19 turned our kids’ lives upside down.

In early April, the CDC published a report on teen mental health: More than one third of U.S. high school students said their mental health suffered during COVID-19. In fact, 44% said they persistently felt sad or hopeless during the past year.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy also recently issued a national report highlighting the urgent need to address the nation’s youth mental health crisis. Dr. Murthy said the pandemic’s long-term impact on children’s mental health is “devastating.”

While many are “sounding the alarm” on our clear mental health crisis, it is critical that we now respond with actionable solutions.

Risa Berrin

More:Guest opinion: Resources to support children’s mental health a click away

For years, the U.S. has embraced an archaic, traditional high school health education model that focused on adults lecturing students with outdated textbooks, cheesy videos and scare tactics.

In fact, more than 10 years ago, Florida removed the health education class mandate for high school graduation altogether. In addition to lacking proper health education, many Florida schools also lack sufficient health services on campus, such as nurses, mental health professionals and health clinics.

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