After the mental health mandates were passed in 2019 students from sixth through 12th grade have been required to participate in a five hour curriculum that teaches students about mental health. In order to meet these requirements Seminole County decided to use Nearpods lesson that will make thet topics quick to go over. But is this method of teaching working? (photo by AiLinh Vu)
After the mental health mandates were passed in 2019 students from sixth through 12th grade have been required to participate in a five hour curriculum that teaches students about mental health. In order to meet these requirements Seminole County decided to use Nearpods lesson that will make thet topics quick to go over. But is this method of teaching working?

photo by AiLinh Vu

Is the mental health curriculum working?

February 16, 2023

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The mental health lessons get the job done

As you plug in the code for your mental health Nearpod lesson in third period, you hear the groans of your peers. While the lessons have been around for a while, this year, the pressure to complete the mental health modules is much larger. 

Mental health has long been an issue, with Florida alone having nearly three million suffering from mental health issues. To combat these increasing numbers, Gov. Ron DeSantis passed the mental health law for students in sixth through 12th grade, requiring schools to teach students about mental health. While the lessons taught may not be fun, it meets the requirements and helps those who need it. 

Passed in 2019, the law requires schools to provide students with five hours of mental health lessons. With these guidelines, Seminole County decided to create interactive presentations through Nearpod. Each lesson is designed to teach students about a certain issue, followed by resources and a couple of interactive activities. Each lesson is fast and effective, and they teach you what you need to know. 

No matter what method the school board chooses to take, there will always be complaints. Even if some think the mental health lessons are not the best, in just one year the lessons have significantly improved. In previous years, the Nearpod lessons were something teachers only did if they had time after a lesson, but now there is a designated time carved out for mental health. It is now a mandatory thing that administrators check. This alone is a huge improvement because it makes sure it is done and lets students learn about and how to help their own mental health. 

While these mental health lessons might not seem useful for everyone, they definitely help those that might need it. Not everyone is open to sharing a struggle they might be dealing with or might not know they have a mental health illness. Through these lessons, students can determine what they can do to help themselves and get the resources they need. 

Despite the possibility of other ways to teach mental health, the nearpod lessons created by Seminole County gets the job done. These lessons guarantee that students learn about mental health and get the resources they might need to help; all they need is updating. No matter what is done, everyone will have something to say, but this way, the students will get the help and information they need. 

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The mental health curriculum needs a desperate reformation

It is third period, the clock hits 10:40—students start to complain as the Nearpod codes are projected on the whiteboard—it is mental health time.

Ever since the 2019 mental health law was passed, students from grades 6–12 have been required to learn about mental health and its symptoms in a five hour curriculum. In order to meet these requirements, Seminole County has assigned Nearpods to be completed two times a week during third and fourth periods. Although this curriculum meets the standards, it simply does not work.

The most recent statistics were taken in 2017, which makes the curriculum seem unimportant. On top of that, the marijuana lesson had statistics from Canada, not the United States.Timely information is a prominent issue, but the bigger problem is the lack of engaging content. So what can we do to fix it? Make updates with relevant, interactive and student-led lessons that keep the school interested. 

During the Nearpod, we are taught about mental illnesses ranging from depression, anxiety, and panic disorder, but there is other content that is not relevant to our age group. For example, psychosis is extremely rare amongst teenagers making the portion irrelevant. Instead of wasting time with this information, it should be used to discuss more prominent topics like drug abuse or stress in more detail. 

However, the information is not the biggest problem. The most difficult issue to tackle is student engagement. One solution could be making a project. Students could be put into groups and be given a topic to research. Students would be given 30 minutes in class to research. The project could be essays, PowerPoint or even TikToks created by the students that include recent statistics and information. The last week would simply be a period of presenting the information gathered by students.

Of course, this means more work for teachers, and it will take significant class time to complete, but this way of approaching engagement could be beneficial in the long run. Students will be informed and actively process the information they are researching instead of ignoring the Nearpods and playing on their phones. If it’s not a project, the end goal still needs to be student engagement. 

Answering questions during a Nearpod lesson is better than nothing, but not much. In the end, the mental health curriculum needs change, the student projects are only one possibility. Everyone agrees that mental health education is critical; the question is how do we make the state mandated time more meaningful.

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