Mental Health and Cyberbullying
Education and mental illness, two very different but prominent aspects of our society today. But, they might not be so different after all. In today’s society we are seeing an increase in both of these areas especially in the teenage age range. Today, mental illness is the second leading disability in our world. A study performed in 2017 showed that 7.4% of youth in the United States were experiencing severe depression, this may not sound like a large part of our society but it truly is when we are thinking about this being the children of our world. Then, put it into a greater perspective when you connect it with this astonishing fact. In 1999, when homeschooling was not as prominent, approximately 850,000 students in America were being homeschooled, 1.7% of total students. By 2012, this number jumped to 1.77 million students being homeschooled, this equaling to 3.4% of all students in the United States where to this day that number continues to stay right around.
If 3.4% of students country-wide is equal to 1.77 million students, we’re looking at close to 4 million children/teenagers dealing with mental illness in just the United States. So now you may be wondering how the two are exactly connected, and that is what I am here to further explore. Is there a connection between the two, and if so what kind of connection? What I wanted to look deeper into was the overall amount of children/teenagers in schooling dealing with mental illness. Then my next question to look further into was, are the children developing these mental illnesses possibly developing these mental illnesses because of the form of education they are getting? So I decided I would to compare the mental illness statistics in public education and in homeschooling.
The common association with school in general is that perhaps you have to actually like it and be a good student to be able to enjoy it, right? It makes sense, if a student struggles to enjoy what they are learning and struggles with the actual material, they are less likely to be happy at least in school. From what studies have shown, the less connected the students are to being at school and in the classroom (in public education), the more likely they are to go down the wrong path either with mental illness, substance abuse, or not finishing their high school career. This means children/teens may dread having to wake up on those school days, which then turns into an eventual hate for going to school every day.
These are all starting issues eventually lead to depression in these children/young teenagers. These issues are not new, however, there have always been students who have hated school. So then why is this generation making a jump in the mental illness area? “Behavioral health has become a public health crisis. No other public health crises are as widespread or contribute as much to the burden of illness in the U.S. as do behavioral health disorders. By 2020, mental and substance use disorders will surpass all physical diseases worldwide as major causes of disability.” The answer to all of this? Technology. To some this may come as a surprise, but to me and I’m sure most of today’s society, it all makes sense. Today teens are using technology more than ever, especially because it is an ever-growing part of our society.
The issue is that they rely on it too heavily, and studies have begun to show the drop in face to face social interaction between teenagers and their friends dropping noticeably after 2011. Thinking back to the time of 2011, smartphones were really making their big break out into the popularity of our society at the time, and because of this it was easier than ever for students to communicate with each other without actually hanging out, it was simpler, they relied on it too heavily and it created social and mental issues within these teens inside the school environment. This then leads into the increase in homeschooling today. Children/teenagers who are regularly feeling anxious, stressed, or depressed in high school often feel homeschooling is the safer route for them to take, and if they do not feel this way, their parents do strongly. Of course, there are other reasons for parents to want their children homeschooled, for example, if they do not agree with the material being taught, or if they do not think it is safe to send their child to a public education system. I have found that public education is actively causing mental illness, but this does not necessarily mean that homeschooling is the answer and that public education is to be blamed solely for mental illness in children and teens. So after successfully finding that public education can cause these problems, I started to look into the statistics of homeschooling.
I quickly found that I would not be able to clearly answer my question on whether one is causing mental illnesses more than the other. When looking into mental illness tied to homeschooling, what I found is that it is not just tied to the homeschooling, but to the community these students are being homeschooled in. Statistically, many areas that are high in the homeschooling practice are of Christian faith, more conservative, religious, regions. Many may wonder why, but it has been proven statistically that actively practicing Christians are at a higher risk of developing these mental illnesses. Why, you may ask? The answer is simply for the reason that it has been found that the practicing conservative Christians do not take the time to actively practice and acknowledge the idea and importance of mental illness.
This includes the overall education of mental illness as well as the importance of speaking about personal mental health issues. Due to this, these students are more prone to developing these disabilities because they do not know how to properly handle them. Society in general has created this stigma over time assuming that if we do not talk about mental illness it will simply go away, and this practice is even more prominent for those a part of the conservative Christian practice. This is because of their overall practice with faith, and in the most severe of these practices they often do not believe in taking medications that would alter the way your brain works or your emotions are controlled. In most cases, they actually find taking these medications to be a sin against God and their faith. In fact, 41% of Christians questioned by a Baylor University study said that they were told by someone in their Christian practice that their mental illness was not real.
Going into this topic, I expected to come out finding a strong, solid answer that homeschooling is causing mental illness more so than the public education system due to the lack of socialization skills caused through the practice. To me, it seemed like a simple answer, homeschooled children are not surrounded by other children daily therefore they do not have the opportunity to practice their socialization skills. But instead, I actually found quite the opposite. I can not stand firmly and say that one form of education is causing mental illness than the other because there is research proving that both do quite frequently. However, from what I have gathered through this process the public education system seems to link closer to mental illness disabilities more so than homeschooling. This may be because there is more research done on public education, or if it is the opposite and there just is not enough research on homeschooling children. Either way, this growing issue of mental illness within education of children and teenagers is its own issue that needs to be worked on in today’s society.