How Can School Impact Mental Health?

Reaching graduation is a tremendous achievement for all children, no matter what their

circumstances. That being said, not all children are able to perform adequately in school. One of

the biggest reasons for this is the school itself. Many children struggle in school and will develop

serious mental health issues. There are many reasons why this happens. For example, here are

some of the circumstances where school can affect your child’s mental health, says Eric - owner

of Anchored Recovery detox program in Orange County, California.

1. Bullying

Bullying is the most common scenario. This abuse can take many forms. It can be physical,

verbal, cyber bullying, or even discrimination from teachers. Whatever type of bullying your

child is subjected to, it can completely destroy their mental health, sometimes permanently.

Many children commit suicide due to bullying. Others develop long standing mental health

problems like depression and anxiety disorders, or even – in the case of girls – eating disorders

and drug problems. One of your jobs as a parent is to prevent this from happening. It’s vitally

important that you maintain open lines of communication with your child. This way you will

become aware if they are being bullied and can do something about it.

2. The Pressure To Succeed

In today’s ultra-competitive environment there is incredible pressure to succeed. This can mean

getting top grades, performing on the sports field, or in whatever activities your child is

involved in. This pressure can cause serious mental health issues like stress and depression.

In many cases children are made to feel as if their performance in school determines the rest of

their life. If they do not do well in school they have no hope of succeeding in the future. While

this is true to a certain extent, school is not the be all and end all. It’s important that you help

your child realize this. Just because they don’t get top grades, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a

failure. It’s far more important to feel happy and fulfilled than it is to get good grades.

3. Relationships

High school is often where children get their first experiences with relationships. These

relationships – or the lack of relationships – may cause distress. For example, there may be

pressure to find a boyfriend or girlfriend, or to have sex. Having to do this, or not being able to

do this, can severely affect your child.

Relationships also refer to how they get along with peers. Many children struggle to make

friends at school. They sit alone during recess and do not socialize outside of school. If this

happens your child could end up feeling alone and isolated, which may lead to problems with

depression and anxiety. This is why it’s critically important that your child is able to develop

healthy relationships with other children in school.

Finally, relationships can also refer to how they get along with teachers. Sadly, many children

are treated very poorly by teachers, and this can greatly affect their self-esteem and how they

see themselves.

4. Peer Pressure

Peer pressure is one of the greatest challenges that children face. Whether this is the pressure to

look or act a certain way, wear the right clothes, take drugs, or go to the right parties – the fact

is that peer pressure can have a dramatic effect on your child’s mental health and happiness.

One of the best things you can do is sit down with your child and talk about this. Explain that

they don’t have to go along with the crowd. That sometimes it’s better to be an individual and

stand up to their peers.

5. Substance Abuse

It’s very sad, but our schools are completely awash with drugs. Finding drugs in schools is

almost effortless these days and there may even be drug dealers in and around the campus. It’s

very easy for some children to fall prey to this, and they may even develop a drug addiction

which can have severe effects on their mental health.

High school is also the time when teenagers begin to experiment with drugs and alcohol. This is

where peer pressure once again comes into play. Your child may be pressurized into using

either drugs or alcohol. Some children may even become addicted to these substances, and this

can have a long term effect on their mental health.

6. Homesickness

Many children cannot stand going to school. For whatever reason they prefer staying at home. It

could be because they are undergoing separation anxiety, because the school environment

makes them depressed, or because they are being bullied. Some children even find the school

environment overly restrictive and end up zoning out.

Either way they would prefer to stay at home. If your child fits into this category it’s important

that you quickly determine this. In many cases, some children are far more suited to being


7. Underlying Mental Health Problems

Oftentimes it’s not the school which is causing your child’s problems. Many children are born

with mental health conditions and these will begin to manifest themselves at around the time

they begin going to school. For example, your child may have a personality disorder, and this

could become apparent at around puberty. Other children have chemical imbalances in their

brains and this can lead to issues with depression, anxiety, and self-esteem.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that school can be dangerous to children. Not every child is able to

excel and go on to live a healthy, happy and fulfilling life. There are dozens of ways that school

can affect your child’s mental health. This is why it’s so important that you maintain a healthy

relationship with your child. You need to closely monitor their mental health at all times, and

recognize any problems which may be developing.

If your child’s mental health is being affected then it’s critically important that you pull them out

of the school, or take steps to solve the problem. Failure to do so may have serious

consequences which can last decades after your child has graduated.

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