The Future of Mental Health in Primary Education

Bernadette Joy Graham, MA, LPCC, LLC

A Mental Health Moment

By Bernadette Joy Graham, MA, LPCC, LLC
The Truth Contributor

      With a growing need of mental health care for both adults and children, there is also the growing difficulties of how to provide mental health care effectively, efficiently and equally.  There still remain challenges with mental health due to stigma and access to care.  Improvements have been made, but at the rate of timeliness of a turtle, in my opinion as a licensed mental health care provider.

The prevalence of mental health issues among children and adolescents is rising according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) with one in six aged two to eight years old in the United States being diagnosed with mental and behavioral disorders.

In addition, the National Alliance on Mental Illnesses (NAMI) reports statistics that 50 percent of all lifetime mental illnesses begin by the age of 14 and that percentage increases to 75 percent by age 24.

Children are entering into education systems starting around age four or five depending upon attending pre-school before entering kindergarten. Currently Toledo Public Schools are partnering with a non-profit mental healthcare organization. Students and families of Toledo Public Schools are referred to the organization if and when there is a need for mental health or behavioral concerns with assessments, interventions and services such as individual, family end group counseling and medication management.

Children spend the majority of their developmental and maturation years in classrooms learning subjects necessary to increase their academic abilities for choices to attend higher education, trades and skills to enter into the workforce in their adult years. Their success during this time often determines career opportunities and their overall well-being for the duration of their lives.  Unfortunately, poor mental health can and will deprive them of success, career opportunities and wellness factors when diagnosed, misdiagnosed, or have unaddressed mental disorders/illnesses.

You are able to read the words on these pages due to spending time in the classroom as a child and adolescent due to men and women who went on to higher education to teaching careers the world could not survive without (thank you, teachers, and, yes, your salary should match your worth and value).

At this point I believe we should all take a mental health moment and imagine what the future (our children) could be with mental health education implemented into primary education.  Mental health literacy would skyrocket, improving student’s knowledge of mental health issues, help-seeking behaviors, social and emotional skills, attitudes toward self and others and of course academic performance.

The future of mental health in primary education could provide early intervention, increased emotional intelligence, decreased stigma of mental health and produce adult lifetime health and wellness.  They would be equipped with the essential knowledge to recognize, manage and cope with stressors and create healthy relationships.  We are talking about individuals equipped to navigate challenges of life and succeed in both academics and social settings.

Prevention is easier, cheaper and much more successful than intervention.  It is critical these prevention strategies are placed in primary education systems by policymakers, stakeholders, educators and all those who would prefer a healthy world of…….peace.  Knowledge is power.


“Do the best you can until you know better.  Then when you know better, do better.”   Maya Angelou

Bernadette Joy Graham, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and Certified Grief Recovery Specialist can be reached via Email:

If you feel you may be in a mental health crisis, please call 988 or go to the nearest emergency room.