Recently I was in a meeting with educators and parents where the topic migrated to critical concerns in schools today. Everyone there unanimously said the same thing: mental health issues are reaching epidemic proportion. This was not the general grumbling about a few moody students. The people in the room were genuinely very concerned about the issues today’s students face and bring to school, even as young as first or second grade. Conditions may include depression, anxiety, self-injury such as cutting, bipolar disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD), eating disorders, addiction, or others. These conditions are becoming more and more common in classrooms and with students of any age, including gifted students. Many people have mental health concerns from time to time, such as becoming stressed with too much to do, but mental illness is when symptoms are ongoing and affect one’s daily life functioning.
Peer-pressure to fit in, perfectionism, boredom, and others’ expectations often lead gifted students to develop mental health disorders or behaviors. Following are some resources to explore to learn more about mental illness conditions, and organizations that provide information. These resources are just a beginning. There are many more resources available. If you have the need to investigate mental illness further for your child or others, use knowledge of your particular need to seek out a mental health professional in your local area, search the Internet, or talk to others including the school psychologist, social worker, or nurse as a place to start. Mental illness should be addressed to help the individual improve their life. This is especially important for students so they can be successful in school, graduate, and look to their future.
Mental Illness-Mayo Clinic
Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted-SENG
National Alliance on Mental Illness-Mental Health in Schools
Association for Children’s Mental Health-Problems at School
Mental Health in Schools: A Hidden Crisis Affecting Millions of Students
Psychology Today-Giftedness Should Not Be Confused with Mental Disorder
Kids in Crisis: An ongoing series by Gannett newspapers addressing teen suicide and youth mental health issues in Wisconsin.
Ask the Doctor