Mental illness and the support a person receives through their mental health battle and journey are becoming increasingly important in today’s society. Given the number of people who fight a mental illness of any type, the need for treatment, support and assistance is crucial. According to Global Mental Health, one in every seven people, equal to 14.3 percent of people globally, suffer from some type of mental illness.
At the high school, there are a number of resources any student, teacher or staff member can access. For example, Chris Birr and Cari Lotko are two of the psychologists at the high school. Their doors are always open, and they’re available to talk to students.
In addition, the district has added more support in the elementary and middle schools, in hopes of providing more mental health awareness from a young age and decreasing the taboo mindset mental illnesses often receive.
There is also an online forum where students can anonymously submit their concerns about themselves or other people in their school community. The issues within this form don’t have to be only mental health related; they can also be regarding bullying or other discriminatory issues that could lead to mental health concerns. It can be accessed through a my.OLSD account, by clicking on the “Stay Safe, Speak Up” logo.
New this year, the high school is working with a psychologist from The Ohio State University in an effort to expand its resources that can aid students. “I’m always getting new information and trying to see what the best methods are for our students,” Lotko said.
While there are all of these outlets and methods to get help within the school, we believe there will never be enough done to truly encompass everything a mental illness needs to be thoroughly treated.
Mental health is very rarely stagnant; there is always some new treatment or coping method. Therefore, to genuinely say an establishment is doing enough, it must be up to date on and offer those new discoveries. The high school does a lot for its students, and some things might not be taken advantage of by everyone, but there are many things, more specifically treatment wise, that cannot be done within the school doors. One example is treatments with specific medicine that has to be started in a controlled environment, like a hospital, which is why it cannot be done here.
To combat this issue, an increase in knowledge of the resources could be useful. Spreading the information via Schoology, flyers in the hallways or simply just including mental health in everyday conversation could accomplish this goal. By teaching or notifying students what help is all around them, students might actually reach out to get the treatment they need, rather than just coping with it on their own. The school, and district, also work with local companies and hospitals to provide students with treatment that they can’t get directly from Olentangy.
While we cannot say we are doing everything, we can say we are trying. We aren’t doing enough because of the evolving state of mental illnesses and mental health, but we do believe the school is making attempts to provide reliable resources to the student and staff population at Orange.