Why Mental Health Matters

Why Mental Health Matters

Today marks the end of UMatter Week.

UMatter is a week-long event that aims at giving the message of each individual’s importance.

The week included affirmation messages, videos on the FANN and student TED talks about overcoming obstacles and leaning into vulnerability.

I love weeks like this.

I also hate weeks like this.

I love that we have a week where everyone intentionally puts effort into empowerment, mental and emotional health.

I love seeing students smile when they receive an affirmation message.

I love the look on teacher’s faces when someone tells them how impactful they have been.

But I hate that we need a designated week to do this.

The Link Between Mental Health and Gravy

I work in the mental health field. I spend my days and nights helping people understand and overcome obstacles. My time is spent helping people challenge thoughts, re-write their stories, empowering them so that they can go out into the world with fewer roadblocks.

Groves and Seaholm got full-time Wellness Counselors this year. Birmingham is ahead of the game when it comes to mental health. We know that without mental health we don’t have academic health. I am thankful to work in such a forward-thinking district.

But outside of Birmingham, it is different. For some people, work like mine is the gravy to the mashed potatoes.

Sure, it gives them more flavor, but gravy is not needed to eat the potatoes.

If a Tree Falls in the Forest….

Society sometimes has us believe that if we can’t see it then it is not important. Education is no exception.

This thinking is flawed, and here’s why:

  • I can see my math grade, but will I ever really use Pre Calculus?
  • I can see my SAT score, but will anyone care about it once I get to college?
  • I can see my GPA, but does it really matter at the end of the day?

All of the things that we can see, hear, feel and touch in academia are temporary. They are a means to an end. We work hard on getting the best grades, SAT scores and GPA that we can get so that we can get to the next level of our education.

Many times we achieve these things at the expense of our mental health. But we push ourselves anyway. Why? So that we can get bragging rights? So that we can feel good about ourselves?

At what cost is that good grade buying you? And why is a grade so connected to your self-worth?

I’m not saying that we should not strive for excellence. We definitely need to strive to be our best.

What I am saying is that excellence is meaningless if it is at the cost of our mental health.

Sometimes I think that if a grade was attached to mental health we would pay more attention to it.

Think about it, if we knew our GPA was dependent on how well we used strategies to manage anxiety I bet we would put more importance on it.

It’s Not Going Away

Unlike high school, mental health is not going away.

Anxiety is on the rise. And I can tell you from where I sit, it is only getting stronger.

The mental health bank accounts of our students are depleting because we keep transferring funds to the academic bank account. Eventually, there will be nothing left to give.

It’s scheduling season right now. I implore you to please think about the schedule that is being created. Is it necessary to take all AP classes? If it is, what are you willing to give up so that you can accommodate the study time required to achieve good grades in those classes?

The Link Between Mental Health at Potatoes

Mental health is not the gravy. It is the potato.

It is what makes the meal edible. Mental health is what gives way for strong academic health.

We have to start thinking of mental health before we think of anything else.

We shouldn’t need a dedicated week to remind us how important our mental health is.

We shouldn’t need a dedicated week to remind us that we matter.

We matter all the time.

Article by: Monica Fugedi
Wellness Counselor
mfugedi@birmingham.k12.mi.us

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