COLUMBUS (WCMH) — In the wake of the tragic high school shooting in Parkland, Florida and the many others before it, The Ohio State University’s Chief Wellness Officer is urging schools to make mental health a priority, just like math or social studies.
Bernadette Melnyk believes schools must take a proactive approach on mental health. She said waiting until a crisis happens is too late. Melynk said because of the severe shortage of mental healthcare providers, implementing programs into schools is a good start to taking care of our students.
“If we can equip children and teens with how to proactively deal with stressors, there would be less of them resorting to alcohol, to violence,” said Melnyk.
She said schools must take a preventive, proactive approach by equipping children and teens with coping and cognitive behavioral skills, through evidence-based programs.
“They will have less depression, less anxiety, better self-esteem, less alcohol use and increased academic performance,” she said.
Melnyk said some students show signs of being distraught or social isolation, red flags that are sometimes overlooked. She said school personnel should also be trained to spot students with early mental health problems, so they can get the help they need.
“Do I think it will work for every, single child or troubled teen? Probably not, but even if we could prevent 7 out of 10 of these school violence episodes from happening, wouldn’t it be worth it?” she said. “I think by doing that 5 or 10 years from now, the situation would be much improved.”