The current approach to health and wellness in school focuses on eliminating problems and risks that may impact an individual’s health. However, research shows that optimal psychological and physical health is achieved by ensuring the presence of positive factors within an individual and the social setting (Morrison and Peterson 7). This means that apart from ensuring that risks factors are eliminated, more needs to be done to improve the positive factors that promote growth and development. McKenzie et al. notes that although there is a consensus that everyone is entitled to good mental and psychological health, little has been done to create a system that is supported by a formal legislation at schools (178). This essay argues that health and wellness programs should be integrated into the formal school curriculum as part of the learning process for the young people.
According to Fisher et al., schools provides the most effective environment for health programs due to the high concentration of young people and the hours spent in the school environment (9). It is estimated that about 53 million young people in the US attend schools for 6 hours every day for up to 13 years (Fisher et al. 9). Schools are the only institutions which can reach almost every youth and offer a formal learning environment that can be used for different purposes. The current social environment is different from the past, and the schools need to take an active role in promoting health programs that are meant to ensure the young people have adequate skills to cope with the changing environment. In addition, schools have the role of ensuring the young people are fully prepared to cope with community life through school programs that reflect the current social needs. The major challenges in the implementation of the mental health development programs in schools include lack of enough resources, lack of organizational capacity, and lack of leadership support. The current school programs are implemented on an informal platform that appears to have been enforced by conservative groups in the society (McKenzie et al. 179).
The positive psychological and mental health concepts offer various benefits to students in their learning process and their interactions at school and in the society. These concepts can be classified under several themes including social-emotional learning, positive youth development, diversity and mental fitness, and self-efficacy (Morrison and Peterson 8). The social-emotional learning is the process through which students develop knowledge, attitudes and skills when interacting with other people. The diversity programs are meant to ensure the needs of all the students are addressed and educating the students in appreciating diversity in the society. These qualities are important in enabling the students to manage their emotions, pursue positive goals, communicate with other people, respect other people’s views and deal with interpersonal challenges.
Mental fitness is related to psychological wellness that reflects self-perceptions regarding the need for relatedness, competence and autonomy (Morrison and Peterson 17). Research studies show that the development of critical mental and social competency is important both at school and after the completion of studies (Morrison and Peterson 9). The mental competencies are related to increased academic performance by enabling the students to set the correct goals and interact with their peers in a healthy environment that improves the learning process. The students are also expected to adapt to a different environment after school where they meet people from diverse backgrounds. The school programs are to ensure a smooth transition to community life by building effective relationships with other people (Burke et al. 2).
In conclusion, health and wellness programs in schools are currently neglected despite their obvious benefits to academic outcomes and transition to community life after school. There are no formal procedures that can be used to ensure that schools implement health programs as part of their responsibility. The health and wellness programs should be integrated into the school curriculum so as to ensure they are implemented and effectively handled by the school administrators as part of the learning process.