Some of the students we interviewed wanted to remain anonymous:
If you did or do have any mental issues, would you feel as if you could easily get help in the school?
Student 1: “Yes, however, the counselor isn’t always in school and you can’t control how you feel on different days, so it could help if we had a counselor that worked full time, or someone to replace her on her absent days.”
Student 2: “Although it depends on the specific mental problem, I believe the amount of help I would receive from the school (if I did have a mental problem) would be limited. Because the school encourages the students to take full responsibility to get help and see the student counselor for help, however they rarely inform the students of when, where or how to find her. Therefore, I believe this would be enough to discourage students from receiving help, due to embarrassment or whether they have enough courage to take the first steps.”
Student 3: ” I’m aware that there is a school counselor, but I’d still feel quite awkward because you can only approach her through the nurse or form tutor or another teacher.”
How would you say the school deals with mental health issues, on a scale of one to ten, one being the worst and ten being the best? (And why)
Student 1: “I’d say a 6 because the counselor is helpful, but as I mentioned earlier, she’s not always available. Also, some students deal with mental issues that are harder to deal with, and may need further help than our counselor can provide.”
Student 2: “I’d say a 5. Although they occasionally cover the topic in assemblies or Life Skills lessons, they seem to rarely ensure that we feel fully comfortable to accept help from people like the school counselor.”
Student 3: “I don’t have any personal experiences, and I don’t know anyone who does, but it seems like we’ve got a pretty good system, so I’d say a 7, because it could possibly be improved.”
Has the issue of mental health ever affected you as an individual or anyone you know? (You can say as much or as little as you like)
Student 1: “I do have a few friends and family members that have dealt with mental health issues and it has affected me because it is often hard to know how to help or comfort them.”
Student 2: “It has affected me and many other people I know. I think society in general underestimates the amount of people who actually suffer from severe or minor mental issues.”
Student 3: “No, but I have a friend who suffers from anxiety.”
How would you describe mental illness?
Student 1: “It is similar to physical illnesses however it is not visible because it is in the mind.”
Student 2: “Mental illness: a condition of the mind, which can affect or limit people from living their life to the fullest or having the same experiences as ordinary people.”
Student 3: “An illness which is detrimental to a person’s health, by affecting the brain or thought process, and can have damaging effects on their physical health as well.”
Do you feel as if the school educates us enough on these types of issues related to mental health?
Student 1: “The school does educate us about mental health in assemblies and life skills however it does not feel as it is enough because it is often hard to know how to help someone and the lessons do not tell us how we could do this.”
Student 2: “To an extent, because they teach us the basics of mental illnesses occasionally, yet they don’t seem to teach us about it on a personal level- e.g. how to actually diagnose ourselves, help our friends, or receive proper help.”
Student 3: “They do educate us, but it’s in life skills and we feel as if we have ‘heard it all before’. Taking psychology as an enrichment definitely helps, since we look at mental issues in detail, which is interesting, so if we learn what we’re doing now in psychology in life skills as well, it would be more beneficial.”
Are there any aspects of school life that you believe the school could improve, in order to help students with mental issues?
Student 1: “I feel that once the school finds out about a student’s issue, they don’t take take enough initiative to help the student further and instead suggest they look for help elsewhere.”
Student 2: “I think if the school made the school counselor more accessible/available, or had regular assemblies discussing mental health (on a personal level), it would benefit a lot more students. Because mental illness is more common than we think and increasing dramatically, so this generation should be as educated as possible on the topic.”
Student 3: “Just making sure that teachers should keep things at a reasonable pace, and I think teachers should be aware that when they’re setting homework that we may already be stressed from other homework, therefore they should limit the amount of homework. So overall, teachers should reduce stress and making students more aware of the homework they set.”