Community Magazine

More on Breaking the Silence …

By Gran13

There must be a reason why most schools refuse to teach the subject of mental illness. The program is designed to teach that mental illness is a treatable brain disease and the lesson plans, available for grades 4 and 5 and for middle school, are aimed at developing greater tolerance for children suffering from mental illnesses.

Unfortunately, teaching about mental illness is not mandated in most schools which is strange. Take New York, for example. Young men in New York test for cancer and disease of the testicles which occurs less frequently than mental illness does. Is THAT MORE ACCEPTABLE as a conversation piece? Teachers tell me that they hear about broken limbs, heart problems and cancer but in the 25 years they have been teaching, not one parent has ever mentioned mental illness in his/her family.

According to statistics, one in four or five people will suffer a severe mental illness at some stage of his/her life. On average, one in five children in classrooms nationwide are likely to be living with someone who is suffering from a mental illness. I have read that mental illness is second only to heart disease as the leading cause of disability worldwide: according to the World Health Association.

Four of the top ten causes of lifetime disability are severe mental illnesses including depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. The leading cause of disability is depression for ages 15 to 44, according to the National Institute on Mental Health.

At any point in time, 1 in every 10 children and adolescents are affected by serious emotional disturbances, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Of those who need treatment, less than one in five people will receive it. Adolescents who may be experiencing a mental illness, often turn to drugs and alcohol to self-medicate, finding it more socially acceptable than visiting a psychiatrist.

Mental illness cannot be overcome by will power and is not related to a person’s character or intelligence. It’s no good blaming parents either because   



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