Miami-Dade Public Schools Announces Department of Mental Health
August 24, 2018
At the start of the new 2018-2019 school year, Miami-Dade County Public Schools announced the implementation of the Department of Mental Health in all Miami-Dade public schools. Each school will have a Mental Health team to guide students with any mental health issues. These services are not limited to students diagnosed with mental health disorders, and instead are available to any student who may be feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed.
Mental illness is an extremely prominent issue among teens, especially those who are currently enrolled in and studying for rigorous courses. Many students in our own school pursue prestigious Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses. These higher level classes involve a major investment of time and effort for a successful grade. Their potential failure to succeed in these courses is not always caused by the difficulty level of the classes. Instead, these students feel they have nowhere to go for guidance or to relieve their stress which may overwhelm them, leading to a decline in their academic performance. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one of the most common mental disorders among American teens is depression. As a result of this, many students will fall into unhealthy habits like drug use and self-harm. Therefore, an incorporation of a mental health program in schools is extremely effective to help students form healthy habits instead.
Some might disagree with this incorporation because they may believe that mental health should be dealt with at home and schools should be left solely for academics. They may believe that their home is the place where they may feel the most comfortable speaking about their mental health, but students spend most of their time in school, with seven hours a day for classes and extracurricular activities on top of that. A great example of one of these students is junior Mindy Miranda, who spends seven to ten hours at school every day. For students like her with activities after school, it is extremely important to have resources for health as well as academics. Additionally, students often don’t have resources at home to deal with mental health or the people they consult at home are not professionally trained to handle such situations. With mental health staff at the school, students have access to help if they are in need of talking to someone.
“Sometimes I have board meetings for IBHS and since I just joined NHS board I’ll be having meetings for that too. Since I’m one of the Zen garden secretaries I also stay after school once or twice a month to work on the garden along with other volunteers and club members for IBHS. Some days I even spend 11 hours at school,” junior Mindy Miranda said.
Being exposed to so many sources of stress, students need to have access to this program in the place they spend most of their time: school. Beginning this school year, every public school in Miami-Dade will have a team to assist students who are having any mental health issues. This is a major improvement to public schools’ education.