As the world trends toward global concerns made local, students in the United States are facing alarming circumstances on a daily basis. School shootings, abuse committed by those in authority positions, drug epidemics from hardcore heroin to more accessiblehydrocodone, even the pressure to achieve the best grades while maintaining meaningful involvement in so many extracurricular activities that nearly cancel out any free time let alone the chance to just enjoy being a youth– these factors and many more show the urgent need for access to student crisis counseling. Although the stigma of seeking help for mental health issues still carries an enormous bite, it’s the bark that carries more weight: without the opportunity to more successfully facilitate interventions, the suicide rate for teenagers and young adults will continue to number in the thousands every year.
The truth is that adolescents are often left ill-equipped to deal with the hazards of daily life, let alone when broader disasters overwhelm the ability to cope with frightening realities. From early childhood, most youth are counseled by their families and the adults who are a part of their circle of experience to suck it up, deal with it, accept that “it is what it is” and not even succumb to the most basic way of dealing with both sadness and fear: shedding tears not seen as cathartic but rather a sign of weakness. Although lip service is paid to these outdated reactions being retired in favor of honestly dealing with bad circumstances, many students never get to experience counseling and how beneficial that can be toward accepting current realities while also learning tools to deal with future issues.
As the second decade of the second millennium draws close to its end, it becomes ever evident that true paradigm shifts need to occur in order to best support adolescents at this stage in their lives while also building up their internal assets to navigate the tricky waters of adulthood that soon await. The best gift concerned adults– parents, teachers, mentors, supporters, leaders– can bestow on this youngest generation is an enormous push todestigmatize both mental health issues and the student crisis counseling resources that can intervene in the here and now to prevent future struggles and tragedies.
A quote often attributed to Albert Einstein posits that when people continuously cling to the same actions time and again while somehow thinking a different outcome may occur, it’s sheer insanity. But the true insanityis knowing about the enormous resources available to provide necessary mental health support to those most vulnerable and yet downplaying their value and deriding their use. Simply put, it’s time for the country to embrace mental health services wholeheartedly and encourage their utilization enthusiastically.. The next generation of future leaders, dreamers, builders, artists, writers, doctors, lawyers and social workers deserve no less.