• By Davina Lytle, www.davinalytle.com

Should We Make Mental Health Mandatory in Our Educational Curriculum?

Updated: Aug 4, 2020

This past week a petition came across my news-feed regarding a mental health course that should be mandatory for our youth. The petition states that “we need to start mental health infusion in the elementary grades when many challenges with mental ill health become evident.” It went on to say that “the education system has a crucial role to play in child and youth mental health awareness, suicide intervention and prevention, resource awareness and skill development.” Honestly, I couldn’t agree more!

We teach things like math, English, and history, yet we don’t teach very much about life skills or mental well-being. With suicide being the second leading cause of death in Canadians between the ages fifteen to twenty-four, I think we need to start!

Statistics Canada published an article by age group, covering a ten-year period between the years 2000 to 2009. The article stated that “suicide is one of the leading causes of death for people of all ages,” and in 2009, it ranked suicide as the ninth leading cause of death in Canada. Worse yet, suicide was the second leading cause of death among people between the ages of fifteen to twenty-four – SECOND!

Honestly, I’m lucky that I didn’t become part of those statistics, incredibly lucky, and I want to do whatever I can to change those statistics!

Some other statistics that you might find staggering have to do with child abuse, be it physical abuse, sexual abuse or neglect. Worldwide, forty million children are subjected to abuse each year, and in the U.S. six children will die by suicide, each day, due to some form of child abuse.

These are horrific numbers and it’s time we did something to help our children, and I think it has to start in our schools. For the most part, ninety percent of children are abused by people that they know, love or trust and needless to say, between sixty-six to ninety percent of abuse victims never tell anyone about their abuse. I didn’t, not until decades later, and I was warned that if I said too much I would be taken to court and shut down unless of course, I could prove it in a court of law …and we all know how hard it would be to prove my allegations. First of all, it happened decades ago and most people think that I should have gotten over it by now. Second of all, there were no Aunts or Uncles living in Canada until I was grown up and had children of my own, yet they claim to have been around and are siding with my abusers.

Anyway, I’ve gotten a little off topic… children like I was, need to know that they can get help and the only way they’re going to get it is by being taught it in school. It needs to be a mandatory class and it needs to be taught no later than middle school (grades six-eight) because, for a lot of kids, this is up to five years after their first encounter with abuse.

As part of the course, our children will be taught about things like mental disorders, suicide, child abuse, and bullying. They will learn that if they’re a victim of abuse or if they know anyone that’s a victim of abuse, that they can get help. More importantly, they will be kept safe throughout the process. They need to know that if they’re struggling with anything, no matter what it is, that they can reach out and talk about it without being put down or stigmatized.

I believe that if our children are taught about the challenges life may throw at them and how to protect themselves, as well as others, they will have a much better chance of succeeding in life. I also believe that they need to be taught adversity and how common it is for adversity to touch them, or one of their friends. That way, they will be better able to cope with the trials and tribulations that make some youths believe that dying by suicide is their only solution when faced with extremely harsh conditions.

What do you think? Should we make mental health and well-being mandatory in our educational curriculum, or should we keep believing that somehow these kids are going to find their own way?

Stay safe, and stay strong. Thanks for following.








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