In most schools, it is only typical to have a nurse in sight, not a psychologist. There is supposed to be nothing wrong with that. Some kids tend to get into minor accidents at the playground or while roughhousing with their classmates. Others may have existing medical conditions that require immediate response, which nurses can provide. Thus, moms and dads feel secure, knowing that their children go to a school that has a trained medical professional who can give first aid to them.
Now, whether the kids are in elementary, high school, some college, or university, the absence of a psychologist or at least a quick access to one is as bright as day. A logical reason here is that the lawmakers who passed the bill that allows nurses and general practitioners alike to practice in schools because they used to think that the students only need people to check their blood pressure or patch up minor wounds. They have perhaps failed to anticipate the possibility of mental disorders becoming a not-so-rare problem, which seems to be the current case.
“Therapy helps individuals better understand themselves; learn healthy ways to cope with stress; make decisions about their careers and relationships; adjust to big transitions; and lead a more fulfilling, satisfying life,” Amber Baker, Ph.D, a psychologist said.
According to a few reports, children that are as young as three years old can have depression. “Symptoms for depression in children can look ‘typical’: withdrawal, low energy, negative thinking, and lack of interest in activities they previously enjoyed,” says Kacia Kriener Putman, licensed clinical social worker (LCSW).
Take that in for a minute. If you think about it, a preschooler and mental health disorder should not even be seen in one sentence, much less linked to each other, but that’s the unfortunate truth. Worse, some parents downplay the symptoms as the kids’ way of getting what they want and merely believe it when they see their precious child succumbing to depression not too long after that.
The more the kids grow up as well, the more they can find activities that can trigger their psychological disorders. It does not help that there are also people who bully them, either directly or indirectly. For instance, a mean classmate may often turn them into a laughingstock in the classroom or steal their food during lunch. There may be a teacher or even a parent who brings down their morale by saying something like “Do you think you’re smart enough?” or “You always disappoint me.” When all these things add up, and the student cannot find a way to let out their feelings, that’s when their mental well-being starts to spiral down.
Why Students Need To Meet A Psychologist Annually
The facts mentioned above are real indications that kids should have a consultation with a psychologist every year, even if they do not seem to show signs of depression, anxiety, and other disorders. If you haven’t realized yet, mental illnesses are invisible. For one, some students with severe depression do not look like they have internal turmoil because they are always laughing and smiling.
“People often don’t realize that depression isn’t just one thing. It can have different causes and presentations. Some people look sad, others are more irritable, some withdraw, and others seem restless.” —Lisa Moses, PsyD
Kids with anorexia, on the other hand, can cover up their excess weight loss by claiming that it’s because they play a lot of sports. Any sign that parents may not catch at home, no matter how much they stare at their kids, may be picked up by the mental health professional.
Another reason why meeting a psychologist annually is suitable for children of all ages is that most of them have this inkling that they should pick what they are going to tell their mom and dad; otherwise, they may get scolded. This is regardless of the truth that parents always encourage kids to voice out whatever’s in their mind. You’ve been a child once — you know how it works.
Well, the things that the children feel the need to keep as a secret to their family can be divulged to psychologists. The latter are trained to turn any space into a safe one and make even a child who’s still learning how to read and write talk about their issues. Child psychologists, to be specific, are capable of understanding how the youngsters think and what coping mechanisms may work for them.
As for the older kids, they are meeting a psychologist yearly entails that an expert can assess how stress has affected their mentality. It is no secret that growing children tend to be busier than a working adult. Not only do they have to study, but they also have extracurricular activities that take up a good portion of their free time. If they cannot talk openly about their frustrations or stressors in front of their loved ones, then they should at least be able to speak of it in front of a mental health expert.
It may take a little while before the government puts one psychologist in every school, but one can actively hope for it. In the meantime, you should open your eyes to the possibility that your happy kid may not be happy at all. Monitor their activities, stop yourself from overly criticizing their actions, and work towards making every member of the family emotionally and mentally secure.