Is there a stigma against mental health, and is this due to the lack of education on mental health within school systems?

Background Information

In recent times, society has become more accepting of mental health issues as a whole, however, there is still a stigma present among students. As a high schooler, I see people take mental health as a joke and not try to help the community. I want to help take away this stigma to the best of my ability. The stigma against mental health within students mainly stems from the education of mental health within their school and community. 

As the statistics show, it is clear that students suffer from mental health issues. In this example it is just college students, however mental health issues occur among all kinds of students. It does not only impact their ability to perform in school, but it creates a set-back for many students in their day to day life. School is becoming more and more stressful for students, and creates a life path for people, and is often a source for a lot of stress and anxiety. Many students do not take mental health seriously, and are taunted and often times not properly treated. This all stems from the school systems’ education on mental health, and how students are uneducated on mental health from the start, but we can take steps to making a change for the better.

My Response

I conducted a study among the students in my high school, of varying age groups. I asked the varying students what their opinion is on the education of mental health within school systems. I had an outcome of answers such as:

“Yes, because I don’t think that a lot of schools focus on that aspect of education for students. I think that it depends on the school because sometimes certain schools have seminars and go into depth, but this is rare.”

-Macy Akins, Grade 11

“I think there is a lack of education in the school system. We are not taught about mental health as much as other topics in school. It just doesn’t seem like a priority, even though it’s really important. I think that there should be more exposure overall, and that we need to come up with ideas on how to raise awareness.”

-Aleesha Chaudhry, Grade 12

“I think that there should be more talk about mental health in general because there seems to be a stigma against it. It is just something that I have noticed, and it should be okay to talk about it. Throughout high school I think that people are taking down the stigma of mental health, however, it is still not a priority and I personally believe it should be.”

-Taha Ahmed, Grade 9

Due to the results of the survey, and the outlook towards mental health within school systems, I am currently working on a plan with my school on the issues of mental health and how we can better educate students and promote awareness. I want to create more fundraisers and awareness (with speeches and overall talk) about mental health to take down the stigma against it. There is only so much I can do within my own community, that I encourage everyone to do the same. One person can make a big impact, and just by reaching out and helping your community, you can make a change too. 

What You Can Do

Here Jordan talks about how she handled mental health issues within her own school, and shows that just one person can make the difference. She looks at the issue in the perspective of a student, and presents how there is a lack of education within various school systems. Jordan gives a few examples out of many, on how we can better our community with the education of mental health.

Be active within you community! There is so much one can do in order to change their community for the better. In order to spread the awareness of mental health: contact schools, encourage a change, and do as the following suggests.

The awareness of mental health issues within the world can help prevent the stigma of mental health, especially within students. School systems are still filled with people who are uneducated on such issues, and this can change. So, how will you make the change? In the comments below please let me know: 

  1. Do you believe there is a stigma against mental health in today’s society?
  2. What steps will you take within you own community?
  3. Are you planning to reach out to school systems?
  4. What other ideas do you have?
  5. What do you think is the best way to help out, concerning this issue?

Start having conversations and list your ideas, because it can never hurt to try and make a change! 


Share this project
  1. April 23, 2020 by Nele

    I love that you want to raise awareness about such an important struggle that I believe many people in today’s society have. I myself have tried going something similar within my community. When I was in grade 9 I learned a little bit about some types of mental illnesses but as high school progresses, I see a decrease of discussion about this topic. I wanted to raise awareness and with the help of some other people in my school, I made four photographs that represent 4 different types of mental illnesses. I think that it is important to let people know that having a mental illness is not something that someone should be ashamed of.

    • April 25, 2020 by Nikhita Toleti

      Hey Nele!
      Thank you for your support and interest 🙂 Also, thank you for sharing your personal experience with this problem, I am glad that many other people see this issue and are aware. I think that it is amazing that you made those photographs. Teaching people about mental health in creative ways is amazing and I am inspired by you. I hope you continue to do this.

  2. April 23, 2020 by Grace

    I absolutely believe there is still a stigma around mental health. Today’s society, while more accepting of mental health then in previous generations, still has a long way to go in terms of a full acceptance and understanding of mental health. Within my own community I think I can commit to being vulnerable and talking about my feelings more. I think this will help diminish the mental health stigma because it will normalize vulnerability and mental health. I cannot say I plan on reaching out to school systems but I will definitely continue to be involved in mental health programs at my school. I think the best way to discourage mental health stigmas is to build school confidence. If students are confident in themselves then they will not fear vulnerability or judgement for a mental health struggle.

    • April 25, 2020 by Nikhita Toleti

      Hello Grace!
      You are so right! I think that we are becoming more accepting, but there is still a long way to go. I am so happy that you plan to be involved with mental health programs at your school! I completely agree, with your statements and I think that students should feel confident and feel free of judgement, and taking away this stigma is how we can take these steps. I hope you get to change your community for the better

  3. April 24, 2020 by Lara

    I definitely think that there is still a stigma surrounding mental health. While there have been developments in destimingatizing anxiety and depression in recent years, there still is a stigma surrounding these disorders as well as surrounding other disorders like eating disorders and personality disorders. I would love to see more awareness in my community on mental health, and I would love to be a part of that change. While my school does have great guidance counselors and has made attempts to discuss mental health, my school is very competitive, and it can be easy to not want to ask for help out of fear that you will fall behind. Because of this I have seen people make bad decisions to stay ahead. I am planning on reaching out to my school, and trying to come out with more ways that we as a community can promote mental health awareness and combat the stigma around mental illness. I think the best way to do this is to have an open dialogue where everyone can say what they are feeling without fear of being judged. This is the only way we can actually combat the problem. If people don’t see that their peers are struggling with these issues, then they will never take it seriously.

  4. April 24, 2020 by Chauncey Hill

    This is something that I also looked into, and find super interesting. The lack of education surrounding mental health is a huge problem to the youth of America. I really liked the ideas that you had for the community to get involved. I think that it would make a huge difference if people understood more about mental health, and worked to go against some of the stigmas that society has created. Do you think that if schools educated their students more about mental health that the numbers of teenagers who suffer from them will decrease?

  5. April 25, 2020 by Maria

    I do believe there is a stigma against mental health in our society. In my community, I’m trying to raise awareness so people will feel more comfortable getting help/support.

  6. April 26, 2020 by Sarah Zide

    Hi! I think this project is very similar to mine in the sense that we were both focusing on changing these issues within our school system. My project focuses on the lack of education as well as self diagnosis and the danger that it causes. I certainly do believe there is quite a bit of stigma surrounding mental health illnesses in our society. A lot of the ideas and steps to enact change that I came up with relate to the language we use surrounding mental illnesses as well as the discussions/ teacher training about the issues. Before the Corona Virus had a big impact on the spring term I had originally hoped to implement a new education process into a class that all freshmen are required to take called freshmen seminar. I think the biggest thing that needs to continue to happen in our world is that conversations about mental illness need to keep being discussed. The only way things will begin to be normalized is by addressing them as often as we can.

  7. April 26, 2020 by Annushka

    Hello! I thought this project was very insightful and definitely correct in identifying that mental health issues are stigmatised and in many cases, not sufficiently discussed in schools. Personally, I’ve found that our education system tends to put less of an emphasis on social emotional wellbeing as students get older. In high schools in particular, we enter the hamster wheel mentality of academic achievement, and mental health often ends up taking the backseat in a way that I think is problematic. For instance, at my high school, while we have a community that tries to be aware of mental health and is generally supportive, emotional self-care isn’t a significant part of the curriculum—even when there are workshops and related things, it isn’t a conversation that is had on a regular basis. I think your solutions of advocating for mental health awareness are very useful, and I would add that on an individual basis, beginning emotionally honest conversations about mental health can help to make others feel more safe in sharing their own experiences.

  8. April 26, 2020 by Ellie

    Hi Grace!
    I think your project is super interesting and is definitely a topic that needs to be discussed more in today’s society and in our highschools. There is a sense of competition in essentially every task, assignment, or discussion we have. This highschool routine is draining and deadly to someone’s mental health. Mental health affects every single person one way or another, and the fact that in society it is considered “shameful” is completely insane. We should be educating the youth on mental health, ensuring that one day it can become a normal discussion. The root of the problem is the lack of understanding people have for this sensitive topic. Evidently, the stigmas surrounding mental health need to be broken so we can create a positive and safe space where discussion can take place.

  9. April 26, 2020 by Heather

    Hi Nikhita, you put together wonderful information on an important topic! How might you continue advocating for this issue after the conference is over?

  10. April 27, 2020 by Jane

    Hey Nikhita! I do think that there is a stigma against mental health in our society and I too believe that it is due to the lack of education surrounding mental health. This project is sort of similar to mine and in my project I thought of ways to reduce the stigma around stress in my school community and to generate positive conversation around it. I’m planning on sharing my findings with my school’s psychology team as well as the upper school head of school (principle). I think the best way to handle this is to create conversations and start educating people on what mental health is and why it’s important.

  11. April 27, 2020 by Cecelia

    Hey Nikhita,
    I definitely believe that there is a stigma associated with mental health. People are often so afraid to speak out because our society emphasizes people having something “wrong” with them. This leads to people developing other mental health problems or spieling down a path all alone. I think the best thing to do it raise awareness and spread the truth about mental health. I think that a stigma is rooted in people’ lack of knowledge. I think that schools can help by having more open discussions about mental health and not making it such an elephant in the room.

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