I’m EXTREMELY passionate about the subject, BUT I’m not only pitching the typical diet and exercise speech you hear everywhere else in the world, INSTEAD overall well-being.
I decided to come into the Health Education field when I was a 17 year old Senior at Flushing High School sitting in my health class realizing that I was just a few months away from college and didn’t even know and understand the anatomy of my own body. I watched some students struggle with grasping information thrown to us in a quick 14 weeks. And while some students looked to know all this information Ms. S gave about sex, drugs and other topics, you would’ve thought I was the 40 year old virgin who favored simple living and was unaware of the true world that exists around her, but instead lived in a giant bubble.
This is when I used myself as an example and said the topic of health education, not just sexual education, should have presence in earlier age grades.
I went on a search for issues in Health Education and found great interesting blogs in the field of education by Julia Steiny
… a writer and education consultant who’s been working on kids’ issues for over 20 years.
Her blog post titled “Put Kids’ Mental Health at the Center of Education” sheds light on another dimension of health that society is not used to hearing about and one rarely associated with children, mental health.
— Kids’ mental health is at least as important as their physical health.
YESSS – I’m very much interested in Julia Steiny’s thoughts because as a future health educator, my plan is to move children and bring to parents’ attention that a healthy child and practicing living a healthy lifestyle is not just about how you eat and how fit you are. Though those are important, it also has to do with relationships children encounter all throughout growing as well as making sure their minds are healthy amongst the other dimensions. It seems to quickly be forgotten that kids can share the same feelings as an adult such as bad moods, insecurities and trouble fitting in. Steiny says,
… the mentally healthy are those people who feel able to identify their own needs and issues, and can negotiate for themselves civilly, within the context of a community. Kids and adults alike must learn to take responsibility for their daily moods, feelings and the nasty messages they allow their heads to tell them. (Like: “I’m too weird to have friends.”) Those who can’t manage feelings on their own need to talk to a friend, a mom, a professional.
Society needs to stop using the terms “mental health” and “mental illness” interchangeably and begin putting effort into understanding children’s feelings, letting them talk and reassuring them you’ll always be right there working on it with them, together as a parent, a friend or as an educator. Each individual has their role in this and with each contributing their two cents and investing their time in these children, changes are almost undeniable.
So my wish for the new years is that we move mental health to the center of our concerns for kids. Leaving it at the fringes is doing none of us any favors, but least of all the young people we’re supposed to protect. Even if it’s only the sniffles, we attend to illness. Why put up with so little attention to feelings?
All dimensions of health exist interdependently, where the physical component is just as important as the environmental one. A healthy being cannot exist without possessing characteristics of each. It is not until then that they are whole. Julia Steiny’s “Put Kids’ Mental Health at the Center of Education” and her writing in general motivates me to make health education a subject of relevance. In today’s society, it needs to be taken seriously because although it may be late for some of us and although we’ve missed out in ways, our children should have a chance. Our children have a chance. I hope other educators and people of all kinds share my ideas so that we can save our children. They are the future and they should be whole, vibrant, healthy little kids.