Letter to the Editor: Mental health at KHS

Camille Baker, editor-in-chief

TKC received the following letter from KHS graduate, Nathan Curtis, March 7. The letter is addressed to KHS staff and students.

 

Staff and students of Kirkwood High School,

If you’re looking for an angry letter venting and throwing blame, this letter will most likely disappoint you.
I’m sitting here writing this in disbelief. Although not the closest to him, I knew Brian, we were friends. I’m in disbelief that the amazing and caring Brian I knew was also the Brian who would be pushed mentally so far that he would commit suicide, but that’s not why I’m writing this.

I’m writing this because there needs to be a change. Schools need to reinforce the idea that personal health, both physical and mental, should take precedence over everything else.

This isn’t just an issue here at KHS, and I wish that it could be solved everywhere. I understand that school should emphasize education, but as one of the main facilitators in the formative years of most people’s lives, it cannot only focus on education, it needs to be capable of teaching important life lessons such as these.
After spending seven hours a day, 5 days a week, and 36 weeks of the year in classrooms learning, it is very easy for students to become absorbed in the idea that school should be of the most importance, regardless if they’re referring to the extracurricular, social activities, or the learning itself. This should not be the case, and it needs to change.

I’m actually happy that Kirkwood has been piloting homework-free weekends, as they allow students breathing room in their lives. Things like this which give students more time to take care of themselves, regardless if that’s just hanging out with friends or taking time alone, help de-emphasize school as the most important part of their lives. We do have suicide awareness week, but perhaps another event of a similar strain, like a mental health awareness week would be beneficial? If not for different information and awareness, but for an opportunity to have one each semester rather than one for the whole year.

Additionally, it doesn’t have to be every week, but reminders here and there that people are around to help, and that health is more important than grades is crucial. By providing the opportunity for students to ease up for a little while, it can help the overall health of students greatly. Don’t let a rough week ruin them academically. Even if it might not seem like it will ruin them, often times students feel that it is that way, so try and minimize the damage for them. I have no idea the most effective way to implement this, but I suppose that explains why I’m an engineering student currently as opposed to a psychologist.

I guess all I’m trying to say is that students need the reminders that their health is a priority over grades, especially from the institution which prioritizes academics.

Best,
Nathan Curtis