M-DCPS Mental Health Resources Fall Short
With the emphasis on a student’s academic performance and rigid curriculum, the mental health needs of students have continued to be overlooked and not addressed effectively. While Miami-Dade County Public Schools lack the budget to allocate funds to means to the solution such as hiring more counselors or mental health professionals, students are left with inadequate support in regard to their mental health needs. This is an issue that should be of utmost significance, especially when facing a strenuous school schedule, extracurriculars, and a ravaging pandemic, but has felt like unessentials from their perspective.
Instead of attempting to make significant strides to resolve the issue, Miami-Dade County assigned students with Edgenuity Mental Health Courses, which I find to be incredibly long and tedious, with little to no interaction, except for those teachers who form a discussion with their class based on the videos. Nevertheless, teachers themselves may feel overwhelmed due to the numerous roles and responsibilities that are required of them, and frankly, they lack the proper training to deal with these issues with an unfair amount of expectations to match. Thus, it is a complex issue, in which multiple interrelated aspects play a role, but it is certain that necessary steps should be taken to better address this issue, apart from the Edgenuity videos.
With our school district’s limited resources, it is imperative to foster an inclusive, welcoming environment in the classroom, where students feel open to voice their mental health concerns. In other words, it is vital to strive to remove the stigma behind mental health issues since
many students may feel embarrassed to express how they are truly feeling or uncomfortable to simply turn to someone who they may view as a stranger about their situation. Hence, in order to accomplish this level of trust, I believe that mental health should be incorporated within our curriculum or there should simply be more flexibility throughout the day where these types of interactive discussions and check-ins can take place in the classroom. In addition, as numerous school clubs have already initiated, it is significant to continue to advocate the notion that it is okay to reach out for help, along with the resources they can access.
Ideally, Miami-Dade County Public Schools should also hire more mental health professionals and counselors in each school since current school counselors also have a heavy workload and deal with students’ schedules. Not to mention, now with the Covid-19 pandemic, it is evident that the mental health needs of students have not been met, especially in regard to those students who decided to stay virtual. When all students return to the school building, as it has been discussed for the next school year, there will need to be an adjustment period that needs to take place. Not to mention, students who stayed virtual most likely do not have much access to their counselors and may not know of the resources available to them.
Consequently, this again further emphasizes the need for more mental health resources in schools and the changes that must be made in order to attest the needs of students.
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