With anxiety and depression on the rise among today’s students, school districts are becoming more aware that improving student mental health is as important as keeping students physically safe. Reports indicate that more than two-thirds of students from ages 13 to 18—approximately 10 million individuals—require some level of professional help for a mental health condition. Good mental health is critical for children to have success both in school and in life, but those who are struggling may not have access to the treatment they need.
The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) recommends that schools provide multiple mental health services to address a range of student needs. The organization also reports that students who receive social-emotional and mental health support are more successful both academically and personally. In addition, educators can help decrease school violence by assisting students who are struggling—this includes encouraging tutoring and mentorship, utilizing a peer pal for healthier communication and social skill development, and increasing family involvement so students don’t feel alone.
The National Association for Secondary School Principals (NASSP) also advocates for the kind of school-based mental health services that students need to thrive. Recognizing that schools have a limited capacity to provide school-based services, the organization suggests districts build their capacity to create comprehensive school-based interventions and coordinate mental and behavioral services for students. Other NASSP recommendations for school leaders include creating a safe and nurturing school environment, supporting the physical and mental health of children, fostering their social and emotional well-being, and being prepared to address teen suicide through effective communication and support.
"Student safety is a hot topic. It’s the one we talk about the most. But, of course, student mental health goes hand-in-hand with that.”
Sarah Trimble-Oliver, Chief Information Officer, Cincinnati Public Schools
Cincinnati Public Schools in Ohio has a number of teams dedicated to social and emotional learning (SEL) and building positive school culture in campuses across the district to support the overall physical and mental well-being of students. The district has partnered with Gaggle for many years, and uses the student safety platform to help identify students who may need counseling services or professional help. “All school districts are searching for solutions and programs to keep students safe," says Chief Information Officer Sarah Trimble-Oliver. "Student safety is a hot topic. It’s the one we talk about the most. But, of course, student mental health goes hand-in-hand with that.”
And in Texas, Dickinson Independent School District is taking a proactive approach by adopting programs that help students develop tools and skills to deal with life’s challenges, such as a bullying awareness program, character education, and a “No Place for Hate” program. District leaders have also partnered with social workers for support services for students and families, applied for grants for counseling services, and provided access to trauma care and mental health professionals.
Many organizations involved with student mental health believe that schools and districts must build out more comprehensive student services in order to support students’ physical and mental health. However, this is not the sole responsibility of school districts—it requires a community-based solution, including community-wide conversations involving students, parents, and educators about academic and social pressures.
For further reading on this important topic, be sure to download our in-depth white paper and review our new infographic. If you see signs of any mental health issues with students or children, here are some resources that may help:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 800-273-TALK (8255)
Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741