As a provider of mental health services in schools, Effective School Solutions’ clinicians see firsthand the challenges students face on a daily basis (listen to our recent podcast to learn more). Students are juggling more responsibilities and commitments than ever and the pressure to succeed is never ending, resulting in an increase in mental health issues. Numerous studies have confirmed the uptick.
Data from 20092019 reveals that mental wellness amongst high schoolers has been in sharp decline. The study showed that persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness increased by 40% between 2009-2019 for U.S. high school students; students seriously considering suicide grew from 13.8% to 18.8%, and suicide attempts increased from 6.3% to 8.9%. The National Alliance on Mental Health reported 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year and 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14.
This is why we celebrate World Mental Health Day. Students need help.
In 1992, the World Mental Health Federation dedicated October 10th to driving awareness about the importance of mental health wellness and taking action to ensure people who need help have access to it. “Mental Health is a Universal Human Right” is this year’s theme. Why is this significant?
Why Addressing Mental Health is So Important:
- Academic Success: Mental health and academic performance are closely intertwined. Students dealing with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues may struggle to concentrate, meet deadlines, or attend school regularly. By addressing their mental health needs, we can help them excel academically.
- Long-term Well-being: Mental health issues during the formative years can have lasting effects on an individual’s life. The earlier treatment begins, the greater the chance of preventing the development of more severe mental health problems in the future.
- Reducing Stigma: The more we talk about mental health, the more we can help reduce the stigma surrounding it, encouraging students to reach out for help when they need it.
- Building Resilience: Teaching resilience and coping strategies can empower students to face life’s challenges with more confidence.
Schools as a Delivery Point for Mental Health Care
Schools have emerged as a critical delivery point for mental health care and districts are increasingly being asked to play a larger role. Teachers and other school staff are often in the best position to identify students who are struggling and help them get adequate care, support, and helpful interventions.
Here are just a few suggestions schools can implement to help all students:
- Education and Awareness: Incorporate mental health education into the curricula, providing students with the knowledge and tools to manage their mental health effectively.
- Access to Care: On-site counseling services need to be readily available. Students are more than 6 times more likely to access and complete mental health treatment when it’s offered in a school setting.
- Peer Support Programs: Peer-to-peer support groups and mentorship programs can provide students with a sense of community and understanding. It’s often easier at times for students to confide in their peers than parents/caregivers about their mental health concerns. Training peers to provide resources to those in need is essential.
- Self-Care: Yes, students need self-care too. Encourage students to take a break, exercise, practice mindfulness, and eat nutritious foods.
Effective School Solutions partners with school districts across the country to help them implement mental health and behavioral support programs directly in schools. Our mission is to help students reach their full potential. Together, let’s make every day a celebration of mental health and work towards a brighter, healthier future for our students.