Helen Schifter has expressed herself in a variety of different forums about the need for there to be a renewed interest in emotional and mental health awareness. These issues for too long have been neglected, to the detriment of our children and our youth, more generally. This has got to stop – and the Coronavirus pandemic presents us all with a unique opportunity to coalesce behind this important message, to stop it at the soonest possible time.
Emotional and mental health are critical to a person’s physical health. But unfortunately our children aren’t all educated in this manner, concerning the importance of there preserving their mental and emotional health. Worse, cathartic and healthy exercises like going to therapy regularly and discussing and venting one’s issues and the challenges he or she may be facing in life, is relatively taboo. It shouldn’t be. Why aren’t there influencers and people with audiences of followers seeking to communicate this message and its importance to our nation’s youth?
Helen Schifter in Medium spoke about the importance of changing this model, and refining it accordingly. And I cannot agree with this sentiment more strongly. It’s imperative for there to be a movement of recognizable individuals who are youth seek to emulate that are transmitting a message of clarity to them. A message that is sure to resonate, about the importance of prizing their mental and emotional health and well being.
Instead, this subject is being neglected in our schools where there is a perfect opportunity for our nation’s youth to hear about the importance of adjusting their behavior so that they do lead a healthy lifestyle in both these realms. Beyond inter-school educational programs, there is also opportunity to educate young people of the importance of these two realms of their lives outside of school.
Not every educational opportunity needs to take place within the confines of the classroom. They can also take place on an extracurricular basis. And that’s precisely what Helen Schifter has been advocating for. Why are we creating an environment where ignorance to the severity of the deficit of understanding about our community’s emotional and mental well beings is accepted? It is wholly reckless and can God forbid pose real challenges and adverse consequences on our nation’s youth.
Worse, this neglect can even be viewed as somewhat selfish. We see people that are in their thirties and older, going to therapy; and invested resources – financial and otherwise, on trying to enhance their emotional and mental health. So why should young people be deprived of learning of the importance of the very same thing? The answer is that they unequivocally shouldn’t be.
There in fact should be an incentive based system put in place by our nation’s lawmakers that motivates and even encourages young people to seek mental health counseling and even further encouragement for those that advocate for it on behalf of friends and acquaintances who might truly need it.
This sort of model will surely make substantial inroads toward making a substantive and impactful difference in a context that is so important. There is a void currently about this issue and its associated importance. That is unfortunate, and can even prove to be tragic. Let’s change this paradigm completely by designing programs that seek to remove the stigma that some of our youth may associate with seeking out mental health counseling.
Let’s invest in a program and a nationwide campaign of vocal advocates for mental and emotional health counseling. Those advocates should come from all sorts of backgrounds, and serve as a representation of the melting pot that is America. They should come from all different racial, ethnic and social backgrounds. This way, the movement and its impact can be as far reaching as humanly possible. The effect of such a program will not only be noble, altruistic and ultimately do good. It will also have a real impact on changing and even restoring lives. It is no overstatement to say that it will surely save lives in the process. Let’s get to work, America.