Number of Students with Emotional Issues is Increasing

Working on Transition with youth with disabilities involves addressing interests and preferences, desires, dreams and hopes.  Youth need to be able to be in a frame of mind to plan for the future and set goals.  But students with emotional and mental health barriers often succomb to the pressure of planning for the future along with the demands of finishing high school.  How do we help these students address their personal needs to be able to graduate from high school and plan for their future?

An article in the San Jose Mercury News (February 6, 2014) addresses the rising numbers of teens with mental health issues and highlights how some schools have implemented supports that have helped teens.  Here are some excerpts:

A popular and accomplished Los Altos High student received a parent’s text message at school last year, to come home to talk about her grades. The student and star athlete had earned all A’s — except one D. She asked to be excused from English class to go to the bathroom, but she never returned. She had collapsed, suffering a disabling emotional breakdown.

The student, who didn’t want to be identified because of the stigma of mental illness, is not alone. Across the Bay Area, educators are seeing more and more students suffering from depression, anxiety and social phobia. The acuity of mental illness among students has sharpened, they say, and it’s striking ever younger children, though many quietly bear the stress for years before snapping.

….The increasing stress isn’t just afflicting children of Silicon Valley’s affluent and educated, who attend top schools among driven, college-bound peers. Though not yet reflected in lagging and incomplete national statistics, the trend appears to cut across social class, income level, ethnicity and academic ability.

….San Ramon Valley schools added a counselor at every secondary school this academic year to deal with mental health. And a Morgan Hill school beefed up therapists for depression among fourth- and fifth-graders. Two years ago, the San Mateo Union district created two classes for students with social phobias. It runs two more classes for those with anxiety or depression, in addition to two classes for students with more complicated emotional problems. They’re all full, Dirkmaat said.

What’s behind the rise is uncertain. Theories include economic distress, dysfunctional families, absent and preoccupied busy parents, technology obsession, social media and extraordinary pressure on kids to excel.

Read the entire article here.

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