THERE are many factors that people are ignorant about when it comes to mental health. Schools can play a role in identifying pupils with problems and help them to succeed. At a meeting with a mental health facility nurse, Anthony Madlala, the Fever reporter identified that mental illness also affects school children and sometimes refers to them as “misbehaving”. Madlala said there are various factors contributing to mental illness in pupils - it could be the environment the pupil lives in, pre-deposit genetic exposure and socioeconomic circumstances, such as poverty, bullying and trauma.Madlala said there is a need for mental health education in schools. Teachers need special training in mental health in order for them to understand the symptoms of a mental illness whether severe or just a condition, which is treatable. Some of the symptoms among pupils include depression, stress, intellectual disability and epilepsy. Depression is the most common, especially when it comes to examination time, and it goes unrecognised. A pupil may complain of severe headaches, feel and look sad most of the day and may lose interest in class activities. Madlala said depression can be treated by going to a clinic, talking to a doctor, nurse or psychologist who can assist by prescribing medication or referring the pupil to a mental health-care facility. Suicide among youth or pupils is a result of a mental illness that goes unrecognised, however, if detected early, can be avoided. On the South Coast there are not many juvenile facilities for mentally ill youngsters, however, hospitals do treat mental illness providing a 72-hour period of assessment and stabilisation. Madlala said parents should also play a role in their children lives and support them. “If parents or teachers suspect a child of having a mental illness they should take them to a clinic for assessment,” said Madlala.