Glorifying mental illness instead of calling it sin

How mental illness is glorified in public schools in the USA

Mental illness in the United States has been well documented and much talked about. But it’s also been glorified and weaved into a blanket excuse that contributes to an entitled culture and an epidemic of laziness.

Worsening bad behavior and mental illness

The milieu surrounding mental illness in American public schools has grown from a problem to an increasingly hopeless situation.

Recently, school superintendents nationwide reported worsening classroom behavior and deteriorating student mental health since the pandemic, with 81% observing increased misbehavior and 92% noting worsened mental health compared to 2019. 1

From March 2020 to August 2022 alone, spending rose by 53 percent, and you would think that it’s just because of the pandemic lockdown. However, truancy, failing students, and dropouts continue to climb, often associated with mental problems. 2

1. Celebrating “mental illness” instead of resilience

Mental illness should not be ignored, but so does developing resilience and discipline. Depression and anxiety are widespread, but so are people who use it as an excuse to avoid personal responsibility.

Despite increased funding aimed at providing more counselors, mental illness, particularly among high school students, has not been successfully mitigated. Rather, there has been an upward trend in mental health problems since the 2000s.

Hence, in some schools, “Mental Health Month” is observed to raise awareness of the increasing epidemic of suicide. However, it also risks celebrating it instead of bringing to light the power of faith.

Christians aren’t immune to mental problems, but the “transforming power of the cross of Christ” allows freedom from these issues.

Fostering resilience vs. accommodation

Traditional methods of fostering resilience in schools—such as robust physical education, zero tolerance, stringent competition, rigid hierarchies, and certain forms of punitive discipline—have been banned. Instead, contemporary approaches prioritize talk therapy, restorative justice, and lowering curriculum standards.

These fresh approaches are effective for kids who have natural inclinations for these or were groomed to take “personal responsibility.” However, they are ineffective for the greater adolescent generation today.

Children of the internet

Generation Z and Y are the children of the internet, born with exceeding comfort and privilege that many of the boomers and Generation X have not experienced, which is why more of them are resilient and responsible.

Instead of grooming today’s generation with “resilience,” a new démarche focuses heavily on spending what it takes to give the “best accommodation” for failing students.

This has proven to have made things worse as the number of students in special education (curriculum-adjusted classes) in the United States has doubled over the last four decades. 3

Sensory rooms and mental health days

To address the autism spectrum, “sensory rooms” and “dimmed lights” were introduced in special classes. The initiative has since expanded to include a wider range of students with low academic output, including those with ADHD, dyslexia, anxiety, or depression.

Accommodations included “mental health days” when a student can be absent because of “anxiety,” a shortened number of questions, and open notes during tests to help these kids pass.

Since the pandemic, the number of students in these types of classes has increased. However, while “time-out” and “easy tests” are effective in alleviating momentary mental anxiety, these accommodations inadvertently reduce resilience in children.

In an article by Pew Trust authored by Dr. Mary K. Alvord, she said resilience involves effectively coping with stress and adapting to various challenges in life, including trauma, natural disasters, social struggles, and mental health issues.

“In a 2023 survey, 7 out of 10 youths said that when something important goes wrong in their lives… 70% rated their ability to cope with challenges as medium to very low... An analysis of 97,000 students showed that those who participated in a resilience program were 11% more likely to graduate from college and were less likely to suffer from mental health problems or be arrested… It’s often the at-risk kids who need resilience skills the most.” Alvord wrote.

A “pity party” on social media

Social media undeniably exacerbates mental illness for engagement metrics. thereby glorifying the condition. After all, those grappling with it seek attention to assuage their longing for validation or acceptance, turning it into a pity party on social media.

In 2022, a 19-year-old high school student who had a major depressive disorder at age 15 shared in TikTok that seeking support online exposed him to “glamorized depictions of mental illness,” worsening his condition and leading to harmful behaviors like cutting.

A recent University of Minnesota study highlights TikTok’s apparent detrimental effect on mental health. With thousands of videos about depression being posted, researchers found that its algorithm can lead users seeking mental health support into a rabbit hole of pity parties, further feeding negative thoughts. [CBS]


2. Excessive mental health accommodation

Kids diagnosed with depression or ADHD can receive special accommodations. However, there are also a considerable number of misdiagnosed kids.

While accommodations are critical to those who genuinely need them, it is often abused, thus creating an environment where young people can make things easy for them with the slightest mental inconvenience.

Contributing to the epidemic of laziness

Excessive “mental health accommodations” appear to have made things worse as illiteracy and bad behavior continue to spiral out of control. However, there are other causes for the growing degenerate culture in America, such as left-liberal policies that encourage an epidemic of laziness.

Recently, “big government” policies have encouraged dependence rather than self-reliance. For example, government welfare programs provide extensive support without effective mechanisms to encourage self-sufficiency.

Recently, Democrat cities defunded the police and lowered crime penalties, which inadvertently encouraged stealing and looting. Instead of working for something, the wayward has turned crime into a day job. After all, the government has enabled them to get away with it.

Asian model for resilience

In poorer Asian countries, resilience arose from necessity. With limited comforts to soothe distress and anxiety, people had to cultivate inner strength at a young age; they perished.

Most of Asia were illiterate farmers before the Great War. A huge population today still struggles with getting a proper education, and accommodations that American schools have today are unheard of and unimaginable.

In less than 50 years, China, Singapore, Vietnam, and India were some of the most fetid countries in the world. They now rank higher in literacy and academic success—compared to the U.S., which has about 350 years of independence ahead of them.

Excessive accommodations that many public high schools have in America have led to a lack of motivation or initiative to overcome challenges independently, potentially resulting in decreased academic performance and productivity.

We see this effect on the glaring number of adults who are bad spellers and read below the sixth-grade level.4 [Filam Tribune]

3. Displacing personal responsibility with mental health

Mental health is more important than good grades, but what defines a healthy mindset? The reality is that man’s nature is sinful, and few young people are willing to work hard for their grades, especially in a country where you can get free lunch and graduate high school with very little effort.

Therefore, upstaging personal responsibility with mental illness is ineffective in addressing the root cause of depression, anxiety, or lack of motivation.

Laziness, which is the opposite of hard work, has only one remedy: metanoia or repentance, which is a “change of mind” that brings about a “change in attitude.”

Stress and resilience

More understanding”

Stress is part of life, and part of education is ensuring kids are prepared for it when they face the real world. Therefore, developing resilience through discipline should be the priority instead of accommodating nearly every whim and ache of a student who cries out for “more understanding.”

The culture of “more understanding” is evident with the rise of young people who think they have more rights than their parents and are easily offended by wrong pronouns.

In many public high schools, students standing for the pledge of allegiance is optional because it may “force students” who don’t believe in God, even if the constitution was founded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Similarly, students are given easy access to their “school therapist,” even for petty issues. Even if counselors find them trivial and would rather ignore them, they’re forced to accommodate them. Otherwise, face backlash for “ignoring mental issues.”

Also, failing students don’t really fail. Teachers are forced to give an incomplete or passing grade even if underserved. After all, kids shouldn’t be “left behind.” Where, then, is personal responsibility?

The norm is, “How can you feel better?”

What the prevailing norm is actually saying is that “I can do what I want,” and all these stem from the fact that “focusing on mental health” has taken precedence over “focusing on resilience,” as most Asian schools do.

Ironically, discipline has become taboo. Psychologists purport that corporal punishment is evil. Hence, the slightest physical or mental pain has taken precedence over resilience and perseverance. Instead of “sucking it up,” it’s “how can I make you feel better.

Understandably, the rate of suicide has increased, blamed on mental illness or, recently, gender dysphoria.

Rather than an environment to develop perseverance, as it was in the days leading to the “world wars,” (literary) minors who suffer from gender identities can have free (irreversible) chemical castration in the guise of reducing suicide rates. The point is that it’s all about “making kids feel good” when in the real world, that doesn’t happen often.

Before cellphones and the Internet, there were no talk therapists to soothe one’s aching heart; there was God, life, and liberty.

NCLB: “You don’t even have to try”

Thanks to “woke policies” like the “No Child Left Behind (NCLB) policy in 2002 and the “Every Student Succeeds Act,” (ESSA), passed in 2015, students don’t have to try hard to graduate. This does not build resilience, the very attitude they need to overcome depression, stress, and anxiety.

Resilience by faith and grace

Mental anxiety or depression is real, but so is perseverance and diligence. Victor Frankl and Louis Zamperini, for a time, had chronic depression, but they overcame it not with pills or “safe spaces” but by faith and grace.

Although Behavioral intervention has been partly successful in helping students, the rate of bad-behaving kids with “mental illness” continues to spike.

After all, the prevailing culture that “mental health is more important than grades” has taken precedence over striving for mental discipline and resilience. [APA]

Personal responsibility

In the Bible, the early Christians were not immune from mental distress, depression, or anxiety. The apostles were ridiculed and persecuted and death-haunted them, yet they prevailed by pursuing their call and finishing well.

The same thing is true for the Jews, who continue to be persecuted, yet faith and grace have equipped them to face literary demonic forces at play for their destruction.

From an arid and desolate place, the modern Jews turned their land into a blooming desert while successfully defending themselves from the Arab world, which sought their destruction since they returned to their homeland in 1948.


4. “Discipline is cruel for mental health”

The irony of restorative justice

Democratic states California and New York pioneered restorative justice in the 1970s. It introduced the Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program (VORP), initially in Fresno, which promoted dialogue between victims and offenders instead of immediate punishment.

Similarly, San Francisco’s Community Boards program offered mediation for conflict resolution outside traditional justice systems and toward community-oriented approaches to justice. Oakland, New York’s Youth Advocacy Project (YAP) provided support and alternatives for young offenders.

Defunding the police for “community counselors”

After the Black Lives Matter riots, several Democrat cities redirected police funding towards a community-centered approach to address increasing crime. This involved replacing traditional law enforcement with “community ambassadors and counselors” tasked with mediating and influencing safety instead of police intervention.

They defunded police enforcement with “community ambassadors and counselors” tasked with mediating and influencing safety instead of police intervention.

The result? Criminal activity spiked, and perpetrators “felt good” that dialogue and counseling were all they needed.

Today, Fresno, San Francisco, New York, and Oakland are the top cities with the worst juvenile offenders, as well as crimes committed by adults.

A similar pattern in public schools

We see the same pattern in public high schools, where teachers are trained to be nice to students and, for the most part, ignore bad behavior because it is rooted in mental issues that are beyond their control.

In other words, failure, which is a sin in the Bible (Khata), is met with a culture of niceness, much like what we see in cities that defund the police because they use force rather than dialogue.

Restorative justice in public high schools

For centuries, addressing misbehavior among students typically relied on punitive disciplinary measures, often leading to dire consequences. This approach was recognized as detrimental to morale and compromising mental well-being, prompting a shift towards “restorative justice” as a more effective alternative.

Student counseling expanded to include those who treated bad behavior by prioritizing their “mental health.” Bad behavior or “failure to observe class rules” was addressed by prioritizing mediation, such as talk therapy or putting kids in a “decompression room.”

In the Bible, the word for “failure” (or failure to fail God) is khata or “sin.” Thus, it makes sense to address failure or sin with repentance—not sensory rooms or mere counseling.

But religious tradition can no longer be associated with school policies as it was during the earlier centuries. After all, using the rod to discipline a child, as we’re told in the Bible, is “harmful and ineffective,” according to progressive psychologists. 5

The intention of supporting students with love, attention, and reasoning is only effective for people who recognize that, ultimately, they have failed God or sinned (Khata).

Restorative justice worsens bad behavior

A RAND study published in 2018 shows it improves middle school students’ development, fostering empathy and social skills, reducing bullying, enhancing peer relationships, and creating a positive school environment. [RAND]

Younger kids are often more submissive to authority and are easier to manage or discipline than adolescents. But despite the positive outcomes, bad behavior and anxiety among middle school kids continue to rise dramatically. [USA Today]

The same study shows that reductions in suspension rates to emphasize “mental health” worsened academic outcomes and had little overall effect. The rate of disrespectful students continues to climb, and arrest rates remain unchanged. [RAND, Hill]

Labeling “bad behavior” with mental illness

In 2017, a 17-year-old Black kid, Brendan Depa, nearly killed a Matanzas High School paraprofessional over a Nintendo game. His mother pleaded against the potential 30-year prison time and reasoned Depa has autism and ADHD. Sympathizers on social media claimed it was the teacher aid’s fault for taking away Brendan’s “Nintendo comfort.”

The growing epidemic of mental illness should not be ignored. Still, we cannot glorify it to excuse bad behavior and say that students like Brendan Depa should have leniency because he has ADHD or autism.

In 2013, 18-year-old Isabella Guzman, of Asian descent, stabbed her mother 151 times. They often argued about her rude behavior and her mother’s heavy dislike of her boyfriend. Isabella was placed in a mental facility for claiming insanity instead of prison. [D.M.]

These are extreme examples of bad behavior, but the rate of disruptive and disrespectful behavior and students with no manners in American society is troubling.

It is a gradual desensitization within society towards genuine evils, and such behaviors are justified as mental and emotional inabilities by “woke psychologists” instead of calling out what it is: sinful and evil.

This is what happens when a society gets rid of God and replaces the conservative moral compass with liberal tolerance.

Troubling times as atheists lead the nation

Gender dysphoria, climate change, racial issues, and simply the lack of ambition are contributing factors to their anxiety. Interestingly, these are recent causes that gained traction in 2015 and 2020, when “woke ideologies” became rampant, permeating Democrat-led institutions and liberal academia.

Mental illness continues to climb:

  • Suicide rates have risen by 40% from 2000 to 2020. 6
  • Almost a third of U.S. adults report symptoms of depression or anxiety, roughly three times as many as in 2019. [Time]
  • About one in 25 adults has a serious mental illness like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. 7
  • Only 26% say physical health is excellent, which is a record low in 2022. 8
  • In 2021, 42% of high school students reported sadness or hopelessness, up from 26% in 2009.
  • Girls and LGBTQ+ young people are particularly likely to report those feelings. [EdWeek]

While mental health problems have also been increasing in Asian countries, resilience and perseverance persist due to factors like having a strong emphasis on spirituality, conservative moral values that have long dissipated in the West, and student discipline, especially in public schools.

Conversely, despite improved living conditions leading to more comfortable lives for many in the United States, there appears to be a decline in the pursuit of self-improvement for better job prospects and overall living standards.

5. A godless generation

In the USA, the godless banned Bibles and school-mandated prayers were removed in the 1960s, causing the rapid decline of Christian values and eventual discrimination against Christians who openly practice their faith within the school premises.

Schools are devoid of conservative morals. “Gay Pride” is celebrated while school libraries welcomed drag queens but banned Christian authors. They teach gender pronouns while alienating conservative parents.

Teachers are forced to be excessively lenient; after all, the rate of mental illness and suicide is high. Discipline was replaced with an ineffective “restorative justice” while young people were given more rights and privileges.

Instead of turning to God, they banned the Bible, welcoming the ‘Afternoon Satan Club,’ while others forbade religious traditions such as Christmas because it has “Christ” in it.

No wonder this generation is steeped in immorality, entitlement, and, yes, mental illness. School shootings, academic failures, and depression are unprecedented—conveniently blamed on racism and lack of school funding.

Hence, we should not blame the pandemic or social media. This has been a slow failure of left-liberal educators and woke psychologists who have glorified mental illness with ideologies to justify what the Bible calls sin, which is rebellion against God’s authority.

  1. Education Advisory Board (2023) ↩︎
  2. RAND (2023) ↩︎
  3. Education Week (2023) ↩︎
  4. Gallup analysis published in 2020 with data collected by the U.S. Department of Education in 2012, 2014, and 2017.  ↩︎
  5. APA ↩︎
  6. National Bureau of Economic Research ↩︎
  7. CDC 2023 ↩︎
  8. Gallup poll, 2022 ↩︎
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