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6 Things Students Wish Teachers Knew About Mental Illness

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Editor's Note

If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or assault, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

High school was an extremely hard time for me. It wasn’t until I was a freshman in college until I could talk to my professors in confidence about my mental health. In high school, I would get so scared to open up to my teachers solely for the reason of them not understanding. So I decided to take a poll and asked my Instagram followers what they wished their teachers knew about their mental illness. Here are some of the responses I received:

1. “I can’t present to the entire class easily like all of the teachers want me to do. I can’t handle everything the way a normal person does, and I definitely can’t come in and ask for help without a lot of trust and push in the teacher.”

2. “I wish they understood that sometimes you can’t get out of bed even though you try really hard. It could even be days, weeks, or months that getting out of bed seems to be impossible. They just don’t get it.”

3. “Teachers don’t understand how hard and nerve-racking it is to just answer a single question. You doubt yourself constantly and are so scared to get the answer wrong in front of the entire class, so you just remain quiet. It gives teachers the vibe that you don’t care about the class, but that is not true at all. Teachers also don’t know how cruel some kids can be; beating each other down and making you feel small. The anxiety of it all just makes you feel utterly paranoid.”

4. “I wish my teacher knew what it is like to have a panic attack over an assignment because you are so anxious about it.”

5. “I wish my teachers would have understood what I was going through when I was going through my sexual assault. They never did anything to stop the kids who were mocking me in the hallways and in the classroom. I simply stopped doing my work because I felt like my teachers didn’t care about me. They knew what I had just went through, but none of them ever asked if I was OK.”

6. “I wish my teachers knew that what we are going through is very real. Our bad days are a lot worse than someone’s typical ‘bad day.’ It is difficult for us to control our emotions. We are all trying really hard, but it’s hard to have your mind in the present moment when your mind constantly wants to be in the trauma of my past.”

To all of the teachers who read this, it is not to offend you or say you are doing a poor job. This is simply to spread light on the topic of mental health. Your students are trying. Check in with them every once in awhile. I promise you, it’ll make a world of difference to them.

Photo credit: twinsterphoto/Getty Images

Originally published: August 21, 2019
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