Mental Health Education in Maryland High Schools
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To Whom It May Concern:
We are writing to request that the Maryland high school health curriculum be changed to include information about all major mental illnesses. We recognize and applaud the inclusion of depression in the current curriculum; however, depression represents only one type of mental health issue that students may encounter.
Research shows that roughly half of all lifetime mental disorders start by the mid-teens and three quarters by the mid 20's (Kessler et al. 2005). Given that high school students are at the age of highest risk for developing, or seeing a friend develop, mental illness, health class presents an ideal venue to educate our community and arm them with the information they will need to respond to their emerging mental health concerns.
Finally, exposing high school students to a wider curriculum on mental health issues may help to reduce stigma and remove barriers to seeking help when it is needed. People developing and recovering from mental illness fare better overall with the education and participation of a community. One in four adults in the United States suffers from a mental illness meaning that everyone knows and cares about someone struggling with a mental illness, whether it is apparent or not (Kessler et al. 2005). The future members of society need to be well-informed about mental health and it is up to us to provide the education necessary in order to do so.