No group has better insight into the youth mental health crisis than students themselves. Now more than ever, youth are experts in their own community needs and are driving solutions to advocate for robust and meaningful change and support. Mental health is a social justice issue for this generation, and they are actively seeking opportunities to mobilize around these challenges. By giving students opportunities to advocate for themselves and their peers, schools can build stronger and healthier communities.
Our CEO Duncan Young, comments to The 74 on the ramifications to our youth if states and districts don’t start allocating funds more rapidly. “This is a defining education and public health issue,” he said, pointing to a new $100 million proposal from Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro for school-based mental health services as one example of the sustainable approach school officials want. “Grants — both state and federal — have expiration dates,” he said. “Unfortunately, for the mental health challenges that our young people are experiencing, we don’t see an expiration date.”
The teen mental health crisis has so taxed and alarmed school districts across the country that many are entering legal battles against the social media giants they say have helped cause it, including TikTok, Snap, Meta, YouTube and Google. At least eleven school districts, one county, and one California county system that oversees 23 smaller districts have filed suits this year, representing roughly 469,000 students
Districts across the country are wrestling with fundamental questions about what schooling will look like this fall. Just as important as the logistics for safely educating our kids after a return to school is the state of their mental well-being. Effective schooling is possible only if districts anticipate the mental health challenges many of their students will undoubtedly face.