Growing up, I was taught basic school survival skills like how to count, read and write. As I grew older and entered junior high and high school, I was told that learning how to count or read wasn’t for its own sake, because these basic skills would be used in everyday life.
The reason every basic tool was taught, I was told, was to aid me in my adult life. But what I was not taught was how to manage anxiety and depression when the world moves too fast for me. I was not taught what extreme stress can do to my mind. I was taught the basics and left to function in an extraordinary world full of anxiety, pressure and stress while only knowing the basics.
My experiences in Haitian and African-American communities downplayed the reality of mental health issues. “You don’t need a therapist,” “What is there to stress about?” These are words I have heard more times than we have heard Donald J. Trump say “I’m not a racist.” Our parents sometimes seem to think that bills are the only source of stress possible.
But as young adults, we know that is false. We know the anxiety we get from tests and our social lives. We know the stress of feeling like we should have been famous already and doubting ourselves. We, as young adults, know exactly how being stressed and overwhelmed feels. As we grow up, we tend to notice the serious issues we have with not being able to express our emotions correctly because in school, we were not taught the most important life skill, how to deal with what life will do to you.
We all know that the world is not a place where dreams come true without sacrifices. We sacrifice our sanity for our dreams. But what if there was a way to keep your sanity and achieve your goals?
How many lives could we save if getting help became the norm?
We see all types of people struggle with mental health, from famous people like Kanye West to peers and close family members. Why not demand that, in the state of Florida, a mental health class is mandatory from K-12?
The basic academic tools of school can’t be used for everything. Yes, we want to be smart and successful, but we also want to maintain a healthy mindset to keep being our best. Helping people to handle their mental breakdowns is something that isn’t talked about as much as it needs to be. It’s just as important as learning to count, read, or write, and should be treated as such.