HEADLINE Commentary: Quality counseling enhances the lives of American kids


Commentary: Quality counseling enhances the lives of American kids

By Bob Nehme | People's Daily app

07:48, March 21, 2018


Surely, the 19-year-old student accused of killing his parents in Michigan this month was suffering from more than hypothermia. Similar arguments can be made regarding the Chinese teenager who committed suicide and caused the death of his father in Mountain View, California in 2014.

Effective counseling has become one of the biggest issues facing American youths in recent years. It constitutes a predicament that outweighs virtually every other.

For the myriad of students who suffer from maladjustment and insecurity, feeling safe and at peace is not an easy affair. Scores of young people are increasingly angst-ridden, depressed even. 

And in the case of immigrant students who face the added pressures of prejudice and of “fitting-in,” the conundrum is even worse. For this crowd, treading the social terrain safely or focusing on academics is an implausible expectation.

These ordinary pursuits can be so unsettling for these students that some begin to exhibit atypical behaviors, like hostility towards others, or shutting down--even worse, thoughts of harming others or themselves. Life for these students fluctuates often between fitful feelings of grandiosity and a deteriorated sense of self-worth.

Some children are fortunate enough to be born into a well-sourced, supportive environment that affords them the ability to grow healthy and succeed.  But what about the others?

Privileged or not, none of these young souls have a say in such situations, and the value put on their lives should not be a function of their fortune or circumstance.  Scholars caught in the quick sands of modernistic society face enough problems as it is.

Grown-ups, as guardians of the farm take the garden and the farmhouse for granted, often.  They do not value the young ones’ talents and worth—nor their lives, troubled as they may be — but see them as accidents of “statistics,” instead.  When grown-ups employ such reasoning, they fail their conscience and their kids.

Healthy youths are critical to the land and life of a nation, and it is in every people’s best interest to sustain their mentally incompetent youth, for the cub of today is the cavalryman of tomorrow.

More work is needed to provide the deprived a safe passage.  Counseling professionals, like the psychiatrists and therapists employed at schools, are a vital component in a chain of wellness — essential services, if you will — for present-day youths.  Although these benefits come at a cost, the long-term benefits will more than outweigh the expense.

Students should not be expendable.  It is a blunder and an indignity that a sizeable portion of US schools suffer from an engrained deficiency in qualified counselors, psychiatrists, and other health professionals.

More than a third of all US students with a mental health condition drop out of school, marking the highest dropout rate of any disability group.  Such statistics need to be stamped out.

Rescuing our young and mentally troubled is not a rocket science. Many countries have found solutions by finding and confronting anxiety, depression, attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism in students, to name a few.

Next time US lawmakers meet to confer about a pending scuffle or campaign, or a pricey weapons program… they must consider underwriting the social and emotional wellbeing of students a priority.

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