The Mental Health Crisis: Can School Help Prevent Mental Illness?

A red apple on a pile of books with colored pencils and ABC blocks
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Louie Lang wrote an article in Phlexible Philosophy entitled “An Education Based on Happiness” (Full disclosure, I also write for Phlexible Philosophy.). The premise is that we need a shift of emphasis in education away from career-oriented education and towards a happiness education. That will go a long way towards stopping the mental health crisis. Lang says, “My proposal is that the well-being of students (and others indirectly) should not be a mere consideration, but the only thing that matters.” It’s an interesting position, and one that I’m very sympathetic to.

Lang talks about the difference between alleviating and preventing. It’s good that we have ways to alleviate symptoms, but preventing the condition from ever taking hold would be better. This is what vaccines do. They don’t cure a disease; they stop it from ever infecting a person. Education, according to Lang, could be a type of vaccine to prevent mental health issues.

School should teach everyone how to be happy. This includes both ways to encourage happiness and ways to manage bad feelings as they inevitably arise. It would also include stress reduction techniques like meditation.

In essence, this would be like bringing therapy into schools for everybody. As someone who believes that everyone can benefit from therapy and that therapy is an educative activity, it seems like a no brainer. Why not let students learn about themselves while also learning about history, math, science, and English? There’s no reason I can think of.

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