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It is no secret that the world is currently fighting a global epidemic of mental health. And while in the education industry, this should be a priority to teach students about, it has in fact proven to be quite the opposite in the past. For so long, too long, there has been an unhealthy attitude towards mental health in schools, and that attitude has been firmly rooted in the ignorance of, or refusal to acknowledge, the rising numbers of students who are struggling in the academic system. For decades, this has been an issue that has been slowly but surely mounting, and we are now in the position of facing a global epidemic, as more and more individuals are not only suffering, but losing their lives to their mental health struggles. Of course, this is not an issue that is exclusive to the global academic industry, but this is an industry that has definitively been a key player in the rising statistics of youth who suffer with their own mental health. Thankfully, this is an attitude towards mental health that is slowly but surely shifting in schools around the world.

The statistics are staggering, and they continue to get worse and worse as time goes on. In fact, almost four in five (78%, to be exact) of teachers report seeing students struggle with mental health issues in the last year alone. One in seven (14%) of those cases involved students who displayed or expressed suicidal thoughts or behaviours. This is a harrowing reality, and it is one that students have not felt the adequate support that they need from the education system that, quite often, is a prominent part of their struggles with their own mental health. It has only been relatively recently that schools around the world have begun to take a more actively and consistently positive and supportive approach to handling mental health from the onset, rather than responding far too late for there to be the correct amount of support laid down for the students who need it most. This is a positive step in the right direction, but it is one that ultimately, needs a lot more work before it is sound.

The immense pressures that students feel under the weight of the education industry cannot be overstated. The fact is that while many students do flourish and thrive in the modern education industry worldwide, there are just as many – if not more – who struggle. The international education industry has dealt with its fair share of criticisms and pressures over the years, and this is without a doubt the most serious and understandable criticism of the industry there has ever been. Students simply should not have to go to school feeling like they are walking around, trying to hold a tonne of bricks above their heads all the time. But clearly, this is very much how many students do indeed feel. Whether it is writing papers by due dates that are shockingly close to one another (some even within hours of one another), or dealing with struggling to adequately understand and keep up with the assigned workload, or trying to fit in with peers and feeling lost and alone, this is a problem that demands a solution – and sooner rather than later, at that.

The positive movements towards such a solution have only just begun to swing into motion, but the more comfortable and familiar the education system becomes with mental health and the struggles that its students often face during their years in the education sector as students, the more adequate they are becoming at handling the issues as they come out of the woodwork. This is an ongoing process that demands active and consistent movement in the right direction, but it is movement that is finally happening at an acceptable pace. The education industry has made its mistakes regarding mental health in the past, but it is slowly doing the work to mend the problems and create a more holistic approach to mental health. Students are slowly regaining their confidence that the education industry and their chosen academic institutions are willing and able to do the necessary work to assist them through the ongoing process of finding their voice and regaining their footing again.

The modern world has been amid an ongoing mental health epidemic for quite some time now. And while all different aspects of the world we live in have played a part in the epidemic taking shape and worsening over the years, the education industry has played one of the most distinctive and prominent roles in the worsening state of this epidemic. It is an unfortunate reality, but alas this is the truth of the matter. For decades now, the education system has existed in a movement between ignorance or deliberate refusal to acknowledge the festering problem. Students have begun to struggle more and more over the years. Now, however, there are finally positive steps in the right direction. Schools are encouraging students to be more open about their struggles, and they are providing the appropriate channels for them to get the support that they need, when they need it. There is still a long way to go, but finally the modern education is taking on a healthier, supportive approach.

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