The Right Side – Stop running and face the changes needed to improve mental health

Rachel Keeler, Opinion Editor

  In the past few years, students in school have had difficulty with their motivations and work ethic. I believe that the lack of motivation and work ethic has changed due to increased mental health issues. Tiffany Adema, a teacher at Northwest for 12 years, agrees with this and believes improving relationships will help. 

   “COVID was hard on everyone, and I think it will take a few years to come back from that,” said Adema. “But also mental health issues are a real thing, and that keeps kids from functioning at their full potential.” 

   According to The National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five adolescents aged 13-18 will experience a serious mental disorder or illness at some point in their life. That is just over 20 percent of children in the United States.

   Due to the increase in mental illness and overall issues in teens’ lives, teachers have had to adapt their teaching styles to accommodate everyone. 

   “I have had to increase technology usage in my lessons to accommodate those who are not present that day,” said Adema. 

   Although she sees more of her students this year than last, she makes a point to post everything on Schoology to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed. 

   Showing up to school is necessary to pass. I think people with chronic absences without reason should be sat down and a plan made. In the mental health aspect, I understand that others cannot be pushed as hard without shutting down, but being stressed is an important tool to learn to manage in high school.

   Stress is a common feeling in life. The American Physiological Association says that every one in three adults is stressed due to uncertainty in our world today. Not knowing is a scary thing for children and adults. High stress can also accumulate in the classroom, but we can’t escape it. We must learn to address it. 

   “When I look back at my lesson plans over the past 12 years, I do think I have lessened my workload,” said Adema. “I have also given my students more work time in class to lessen stress, and they actually have work completed.” 

   Due to COVID and mental health, most teachers have had to change their lesson plans to keep them relevant and reduce the workload to help improve success. 

   “Although I have lessened the workload, I try to maintain the quality to guarantee a good education for my students,” said Adema. 

   Teacher relationships are super important during stress and mental health issues. 

   “The thing I have maintained is using relationships as a foundation for success in my classroom,” said Adema. “There are always going to be changes and tough times to go through, but I think if I can build relationships with my students, we can continue moving in a positive direction.” 

   This makes sense. Personally, when I have a good relationship with my teacher, I pay attention and enjoy the subject more. A recent study from The University of Missouri stated that positive student and teacher relationships lead to better teaching. Adema’s teaching style might have changed, but her student-teacher relationships have only grown.