Mental health is a topic not many people are comfortable talking about. However, the issue of mental disorders impact a wide range of people and should be addressed more openly in schools, especially Christian schools like Westminster.
While, most are unaware of the significant number of teens that struggle with some type of mental disorder, studies show that this is a problem many teenagers have encountered.
“About 1 in 5 teens in the United States suffer from a mental disorder severe enough to impact their daily activities,” reports The National Institute of Mental Health and, “the research concludes that a higher percentage have or have had some sort of mental disorder, though less serious in nature,” they added.
Since this is a common problem that affects many teenagers, Westminster is no exception to having students and teachers who have or who are currently battling a mental disorder of some type. Some of the more common mental disorders are anxiety, depression, ADHD, OCD, and all different types of eating disorders, but there are many more that are not as well-known. In an effort to allow students, staff, and faculty to feel more comfortable sharing their struggles, all issues regarding mental health should be addressed and recognized by the Westminster community.
Furthermore, Westminster Christian Academy should be a safe place for so many of those who are struggling with mental disorders to feel loved and supported in a Christ-like manner. As Christians in this world, we will encounter trouble and tragedy, and it is important that as a community of believers, we draw together to love and champion one another.
For example, Galatians 6:2 says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.” This verse clearly shows how Christians are meant to help one another in times of trouble and distress. Westminster can create an atmosphere of Christ when they choose to address the issue of mental disorders and provide a community where love and acceptance are encouraged and not judgment.
Molly Arvesen, a sophomore English teacher at Westminster, spoke in chapel a few years ago about her own personal struggle with an eating disorder.
“It’s such an important topic, and I always want people to know that it’s good to talk about it,” said Mrs. Arvesen about sharing her story. She hopes that students, and the entire Westminster community as a whole, will continue to be open about discussing difficult topics and lead as an example to the world of what a loving community is.
This topic, however, is extremely sensitive and personal to each individual and understandably can be challenging to talk about. Some may say that not addressing this issue as a school would keep those battling these types of disorders from feeling exposed or uncomfortable. While the hope is that Westminster could cautiously and carefully approach this subject, speaking out loud about the issue is more beneficial than potentially harmful. Mental health disorders is a real and common issue and therefore, it must be discussed rather than ignored.
In order to support students and others in the Westminster community struggling with any type of mental illness, Westminster should begin by simply speaking about the problem out loud. There have been chapels in the past devoted to talks on anxiety and depression, and while that is a step in the right direction, these talks are few and far between. WCA does offer counseling services in the guidance department for students to discuss their struggles and concerns. However, Westminster should consider regularly approaching this subject and connect students who are struggling with teachers or faculty that have been through a similar experience.
“Having someone who has been through something similar to you is so important because they know and understand what you’re going through, but they’ve also made it to the other side and can encourage and support you in ways nobody else can,” commented an anonymous student.
The issue of mental health disorders is a sensitive subject and since it is not commonly talked about in public, many feel the need to hide their struggles either because they fear they will be judged or that they won’t be understood. As a school dedicated to following in Christ’s example, Westminster should be a safe place where students can feel heard, understood, and loved even in the midst of struggles.