School is supposed to help children and adolescents develop into healthy, well-rounded, resilient individuals equipped with the knowledge they need to navigate adult life. But, do modern curriculums and available extra-curricular activities fully achieve that goal? According to new research from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), the answer to that question is largely no.
Researchers call for schools to place much more time and resources on providing resilience training to students. Life is unpredictable, often uncertain, and often unfair. Cultivating a little bit of resilience early in life is never a bad idea. Moreover, a wider array of extra-curricular activities should be offered to modern students as well.
Why are such changes so badly needed? Mental health conditions in young children have never been more prevalent, with numbers continuing to rise. It’s becoming more clear that modern times represent new challenges to the mental wellness of today’s children, and educational systems must adapt to these changing times.
It isn’t just this study’s authors that are calling for serious change. Researchers report that many clinicians and doctors are echoing the very same sentiments. To start, teachers need to be better prepared to tackle mental health prevention, identification, and early intervention within their classrooms. In other words, teachers should be educated more thoroughly on how to identify and act on signs predicting mental illness in a child. School psychologists should also be given more robust support, both financially and culturally.
A total 143 Victorian and South Australian clinicians took part in this study. Each participant was asked how educational systems can better serve the mental health of children. Participating clinicians included a wide variety of doctors, including pediatricians, psychologists, GPs, and psychiatrists. Across the board, virtually all subjects echoed the same sentiments: schools should be playing a much bigger role in making sure students are OK mentally.
If a child is getting straight As on all their assignments, but absolutely overcome by anxiety and loneliness most days between bells, is that school really doing right by the child? In 2022, the answer is a resounding no. Good grades, bad grades, or average grades, all students need a support system.
When it comes to tackling and fixing some of these issues, study authors suggest that teachers work to identify particularly at-risk children, take advantage of prevention and early intervention strategies, and implement additional coping and social skills programs whenever possible.