Educating Kids on Mental Health

Why is educating our kids on mental health so important?

In 2021, the CDC reported a concerning statistic: over 40% of students reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, with nearly a third grappling with poor mental health. These numbers paint a stark picture of the challenges our students face, underscoring the urgent need for support. As Med Circle highlights, mental health education plays a pivotal role in equipping individuals and their support networks with essential awareness and resources. By fostering a deeper understanding and empathy, such education initiatives work to dismantle the stigma that often surrounds discussions of mental health. Prioritizing our children’s mental well-being is not just important; it’s imperative. Implementing comprehensive mental health education is a crucial step in this direction. 

The stigma of mental health

Mental health has long been shadowed by stigma, casting it in a negative light and making discussions about it seem taboo. This societal perception has forced an environment where individuals feel compelled to silence their struggles and avoid any mention of mental health-related issues. There are distinct categories of this stigma, each affecting different segments of society: public stigma, self-stigma, and structural stigma. 

Public stigma encompasses the judgments and misconceptions held by society at large regarding mental health. Self-stigma, on the other hand, pertains to the internalized attitudes individuals harbor about themselves when facing mental health challenges. Lastly, structural stigma manifests in institutional settings such as schools and governmental policies. 

However, these stigmas do not reflect the reality of mental health. It is a crucial aspect of overall well-being that deserves open dialogue and support. Promoting the understanding that mental health discussions are not only acceptable but essential is crucial. Encouraging conversations about mental health within our circles of friends and family can foster a more supportive environment. By dismantling this stigma, we can create greater openness and prioritize mental health as a fundamental aspect of our collective well-being. 

How to get educated on mental health

Educating children about mental health is a pivotal step in starting an open dialogue on the topic. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated; it starts with educating yourself. Ensure you’re well-versed in the facts surrounding mental health and actively work to dispel any lingering stigmas. 

Next, initiate discussions. These conversations can be formal or informal, involving more than one participant and focusing on various aspects of mental health. You might share personal experiences with mental health struggles, discuss someone close to you who has faced challenges, or keep the conversation more general. 


Some topics to get you started: 

  • Risk factors and symptoms of mental illnesses 
  • The different mental illnesses  
  • Treatment options 
  • Name people you can talk to about mental health 
  • Talk about things that improve your mental health 
  • Talk about things that lower your mental health 


When engaging in these discussions, it’s vital to understand the roles of support and advocacy. Emphasize the validity of everyone’s feelings within the group, and actively listen as a supportive listener. Nodding, showing engagement, and providing a safe space for expression can empower individuals to open up and share their experiences. 

Above all, convey the message that it’s perfectly normal and acceptable to talk about mental health. Encourage children to recognize that experiencing both good and bad days is a natural part of life, and discussing their emotions can prevent feelings from being bottled up. By fostering this understanding, we empower our children to navigate their mental well-being with confidence and seek support when needed.

Rise Above Youth Summit

The Rise Above Youth Summit, a cornerstone initiative focused on educating students within the community, stands as a beacon in Lancaster County. Spearheaded by The Touchstone Foundation in collaboration with the YWCA and Hood Hippie Love Yourself, this program aims to empower students by equipping them with essential skills and linking them with vital mental health resources in the area.  

Scheduled for a four-week duration this summer, the program promises an enriching experience for participants, with each completing student eligible for a $500 stipend. Over the course of these four weeks, students delve into various topics and themes surrounding mental health, facilitated by local artists who engage them in interactive activities. In the program, students learn about mental health from different perspectives. 

Participants benefit from insightful discussions, discover available community resources, and are provided with a nurturing environment conducive to exploring and comprehending mental health resources.