The Re-Education of Schools on Mental Illness

I remember being in the main office during regular school hours, there was an “emergency” meeting between the principle and my parents along with myself. My disciplinary behavior was cause of concern, most of my teachers were concerned that I wasn’t being attentive in class and that my distractions were a disciplinary concern. I was also known to have bursts of attention seeking behavior and mood swings that affected me being successful in class. At the end of the meeting it resulted in more disciplinary action from my parents. Fast forward almost 10 years later my brother found himself in a similar situation in a different school. The psychologist of the school had diagnosed him with ADHD and bi-polar disorder. I had also been diagnosed after graduating high school with the same symptoms. It was very frustrating looking back at how my school dealt with these issues especially since it did little to improve upon my situation.

“School has been a real challenge for them. That’s not unusual for the 1 in 5 children with a mental illness. They often suffer anxiety, difficulty focusing and social challenges. Half of them drop out of high school, in part because many schools don’t manage to meet their needs” (Gold,J.2016).

The overall education system in the United States has taken steps to improve upon giving services and understanding how mental illness impacts their student body. Although the progress depending on regional area of a school can be stagnant. This can be attributed to a multitude of issues stemming from lack of resources provided to the school, lack of qualified individuals to help diagnose and treat students with learning disabilities and in worse cases a sense of apathy towards those who suffer from mental illness. Students with behavioral issues are often cast aside and written off as “problem child” therefore setting them up for an inclined battle throughout their life to have a semblance of normalcy. Previous understandings or lack thereof in regards to behavioral and emotional issues brought forth by mental illness has created an underlying problem in our educational system. Although in recent times there have been steps take to correct this problem there is still much more than needs to be done in order to better address the issue at hand.

“Schools do not all screen students for mental health issues, and the practice varies widely across states. Even if students are successfully identified, many areas lack the community-based mental health treatment options that would be needed to help them. Just 38 percent of youth with a mood disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder receive treatment services” (Gold,J.2016).

With 38% of the youth in the United States suffering from mood disorder and schools not always screening students for mental health issues it leaves a door for potential disruption down the road with regards to their student being able to successfully complete their education and living a better quality of life during and after school.

 “In 2014, the federal government announced $48 million in new grants to support teachers, schools and communities in recognizing and responding to mental health issues. Still, many students’ mental health problems continue to go unidentified and untreated” (Gold,J.2016).

Funding for schools to address the issue is crucial in combating the detrimental effects of students with mental illness not having proper resources. Yet the responsibilities still lie within the school to make a better effort in identifying and treating students with mental health issues. To add more cause for concern, the current Presidential Administration is looking to roll back on public spending especially in schools. The cut in federal funding for such programs put mentally ill children at risk; resources provided by the government along with the conscientious efforts by schools to identify and provide services are desperately needed in order to assure the proper development and success of students.

Gold, J. (2016, September 13). One out of five children have mental illness, and schools often don’t help. Retrieved from


  1. The overall attitude towards mental disorders and special needs students in our educational systems has certainly improved over recent years. From my own experiences, I remember when my school would strictly isolate special needs children into separate classrooms, reducing their chances of establishing social connections with the other students that could potentially improve future functioning. Just before graduating in 2011, they were starting to understand the complexity of the situation and that you can’t simply segregate mental illness and hide a “problem”. The administration changed the procedures so that special needs children could be with the other students where the belong, however they would have an aid with them to assist them when needed or during an event caused by a disorder. As you noted in your post, funding is an issue when it comes to addressing the needs of all of our students. Those aids that I mentioned definitely weren’t doing that for charity and a system like that is extremely beneficial for all students, including those without diagnoses as it exposes them to special needs students and dramatically changes the stigmas associated with mental illnesses. Hopefully the importance of our educational systems for all students will eventually outweigh the politics involved in increasing taxes. You picked an incredible subject for your post and I look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  2. This was a great post. You raise a multitude of notable and relevant points. In my experience it is true that many schools are attempting to take steps in the right direction as far as improving upon the options and services that they can provide for their students. An increase in community collaboration is an essential part to this due to the lack of financial resources that you mention as well. I know that in my area school district it is thanks to the collaboration of the school district with willing outside resources that we have been able to add additional systems of educational, emotional, and mental support within the school for students and their families. Unfortunately if those resources are not accepted by the families or are underfunded themselves it doesn’t completely solve the problem.

  3. I thought your blog post was well-written. I like that you referenced another article in your writing, and presented a lot of interesting facts. I wonder, now, with the most recent school shootings increasing if mental health issues for students will become more of a concern. Do you have suggestions or thoughts on how schools and communities, even those without all of the needed funding, can still help to identify and treat students labeled as “problem children?” I think your perspective, and that of others also suffering, is something very important to have when creating these new programs.

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