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Do you believe education is distributed equally among classes and races?
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Oct 21, 2021
If I understand your question correctly, you are asking how we change society's approach to mental health issues - specifically eliminating the bias and misinformation - by using schools. I agree this could be done, and I think it would be best done as an addendum to the anatomy classes where the human body is discussed. At an elementary school level, perhaps when teachers talk about "arms and toes, legs and nose" they can talk about normalizing reporting injury. Plenty of kids, boys especially, are afraid to talk to medical professionals about their injuries. During that discussion, the teacher could emphasize that feelings and thoughts can be injured too. The teacher can normalize the idea that talking to a trusted adult (like a doctor or teacher) is good if you think your feelings or thoughts are injured. At a middle school level, during health class that prepares kids for puberty, it would be helpful to normalize that, along with the changes in one's body, changes in one's brain and the changes in feelings are going to happen. Because many of the feelings will be new, they can be overwhelming, and talking about those feelings to a trusted adult, like a doctor or a teacher, rather than hiding them and not dealing with them, should be encouraged. Again, if something feels or seems abnormal, it is good to talk about them - because, as adults know, the kids will probably find out they are normal and the kids can get help understanding and dealing with these new thoughts and feelings. And better yet, if there are initial symptoms of mental health issues, it is best to catch them early and begin treatment. At the high school level, I personally would push for mental health to be the over-arching theme for a required "health" class. Yes, the usual health class stuff can be discussed, but mental health should be the overall theme - because sex education is a key aspect of mental health at that point in the kids' lives. It is hard to underestimate the amount of mental stress that ignorance and misinformation about human sexuality causes to adolescents. The fact is, humans are sexual creatures, and pathological attitudes are common, which sets up a serious cognitive dissonance. Handling this dissonance early is important to mental health. Also teaching about mental illnesses, and normalizing the idea of seeking treatment and not discriminating against the mentally ill, should be a part of the course, and sex education should be a part as well. At the college level, encouraging a basic overview course to be a required course for graduation is appropriate. This course could be a "psychology for the non-psychologist" type course, focusing on recognizing and understanding mental illness, and what to do when you see a mental health crisis. This would be sort of a "mental illness first aid" course, which also normalizes acceptance, treatment, and understanding of mental health issues in society. I hope this isn't too much of the wrong answers that you were not actually looking for.
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