The mental health curriculum needs a desperate reformation

Greta Carrasco, Opinions Editor

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.