Get Schooled Tour fails to grasp extent of mental health

Story by Curren Gauss, future staff member.

Story by Curren Gauss, future staff member.

Pumping music, flashing lights and an energetic speaker was exactly the way FHS decided to tackle the serious issue of mental health.

On March 20, the junior class huddled into the auditorium for a mandatory convocation, the main goal of which was to remove the stigma behind mental illnesses and let students know that their voices were heard. To do so, The Get Schooled Tour (GST), an hour long program that combines high energy music with motivational videos and interactive polling, ran the show.

Some suspected the assembly would be with The Peyton Riekhof Foundation for Youth Hope, an organization dedicated to preserving the memory of Peyton Riekhof, a teenage girl who committed suicide her senior year at HSE. The program also focuses on informing the community about the importance of mental health, showing people how even someone who seems to have it all, could be suffering. GST provided a less heartfelt approach.

The New York Times states there is no quick fix for mental illness, and that is where this presentation fell short.

The tour had not only live music, but many confusing metaphors about mental illness. One compared it to a limp someone walks with, another saying it’s like a broken cell phone. However, this stance is flawed. Being mentally ill does not mean an individual is broken.

In 2016 The Washington Post reported that over half of mentally ill United States adults do not receive treatment. Seminars like GST could very well impact this. Unfortunately the convocation never spoke about getting treatment, simply it was rather asking “Are you talking to someone about that?” without going further.

Over half of adults affected are not being correctly diagnosed. Talking about points like bullying is not going to erase the stigma or educate the community. Instead, programs like these should educate without walking around the sad truth: that teenagers are suffering from serious mental illnesses. That was, another flaw with the assembly: not talking about the real issues in a genuine manner.

Mental health is a scary thing to face, but by not addressing the matters at hand, programs like GST make mental illnesses seem unimportant, when the direct goal of them is to make it more relevant.

The truth is that mental illness is not a limp. It is not a broken phone. GST gives the incorrect definition of mental illnesses.

The seminar focuses around bullying, broken homes or hidden secrets and how that is the root of mental illnesses, mostly depression. While true, it is not an entirely accurate statement, for according to Harvard Medical there are many causes of depression, including faulty mood regulation by the brain, genetic vulnerability, stressful life events and medications.

Before students can truly “Get Schooled”, their educators must first have access to comprehensive experiences that properly communicate the severity of the topic.