An “Are you ok?” a day could keep tragedy away

Mental health needs to be a main focus in schools.


UCS offers mental health resources on their website for students to access at home

More focus on students’ mental health in schools is necessary.

It should not have taken the death of four teenagers at Oxford High School to spark this conversation, but it did. Humanity owes it to those four kids who were killed, the hundreds who lived through the tragedy and the parents who lost their children to make a change. 

Changing the way schools handle mental health is the first step to preventing these tragedies. 

Counselors are present, but not well advertised and many students have never even had a face-to-face meeting with their counselor. Students’ mental health deserves more than an occasional assembly or announcement. Students deserve and require recurring check-ins and individual focus.

Unfortunately, school counselors are historically understaffed and overworked, with large caseloads of students due to underfunding. 

“School counselors are primarily responsible for students’ mental health needs, but unfortunately, most districts have far fewer than one counselor per every 250 students, which is the minimum ratio recommended by the National Association of School Psychologists,” according to CEO Collin Earnst from

Steps to improve students’ mental health could include a designated mental health day at least once a month, which not only would help students struggling but also help teachers make a connection with them, according to youth mental health advocate Nadia Ghaffari from By creating these connections, students will learn in a less isolating environment. 

By providing teachers, counselors, and administration with mental health training, school atmospheres can begin to feel safer for students, according to congressman Drew Ferguson. If mental health training was provided and lessons taught were brought back and used in schools, students would be more willing and comfortable to speak up when they need help, inevitably saving lives. 

Although students spreading rumors after the Oxford tragedy played into the fear, this should not be the main focus of administration, mental health and students’ safety should have. Yes, counselors have online resources for those struggling, when do people start to ask: is that enough?

Students need to feel like they’re seen and they’re feelings are valid, mental health, if left untreated, affects physical health so it’s important it is addressed before it gets to that point, according to analyst Anna Choi from If students don’t feel like their feelings will be validated, they’ll never feel comfortable with reaching out for help. It’s important that staff present themselves with open arms. 

To help make a change, students need to exercise their First Amendment Right: Freedom of Speech. These rights allow for protest and petition, which could be useful in making this change.

Emotions are rights, and the administration needs to address them, validate them and help their students process them for the communities’ well-being.