After more than a year of disrupted learning and social isolation, our kids are struggling. Last year saw an uptick in emergency room visits for mental health reasons in young people. It’s clear we need to focus on early intervention and prevention efforts in K-12 schools so every student has access to the mental health care they need. Adolescent mental health was a crisis before the pandemic, and it’s now more urgent than ever.

Investments in prevention and early intervention with children and adolescents pay immediate dividends, create significant savings down the line, and ultimately help keep our kids alive. Of students receiving mental health services, roughly 30% find that support in schools, making our education system the most accessed mental health delivery system by children and adolescents.  

That’s why we’re teaming up with a group of leading mental health organizations to launch the Hopeful Futures Campaign to advocate for comprehensive mental health services in schools across the country.

Keys to a Comprehensive School Mental Health System

Core Features

Given the high prevalence and recurrence of mental health disorders, it is important to identify problems early and connect students to needed services and supports through regular screening and referral to accessible care.

Schools should offer accessible multi-tiered mental health supports and services to promote students’ academic, social, and psychological development.

Schools must have specialized support teams that include counselors, psychologists, and other trained professionals to provide support from assessment to treatment. In addition to ensuring a team of mental health professionals in each school, we must equip educators with social and emotional skills and mental health literacy needed to create a healthier classroom and workforce.

Developing collaborative working relationships between schools and the larger community will create pathways to ensure the delivery of comprehensive mental health services and allow for the creation of a system of care in which services within the school system are enhanced, not duplicated.

Best Practices

Employing data-driven decision-making, measuring and mapping outcomes, and establishing accessible data systems are all critical components to maintaining a comprehensive school mental health system.

Ensuring programs being implemented have been tested through a scientifically rigorous process, and are effective and culturally relevant based on a school population’s strengths and needs.

Conducting a needs assessment offers a systematic process for identifying a school’s needs and helps staff determine priorities. Similarly, resource mapping offers schools and districts a comprehensive view of school and community mental health services and resources available to students and families.

States, school districts, and local agencies must identify innovative ways to implement, fund, and sustain critical school mental health supports for the long term.

Our three-pronged strategy to ensuring comprehensive mental health systems in every school

  • Policy Advocacy – Inseparable will lead the development of innovative, digital-forward campaigns to build political and grassroots support for the passage of key school mental health policies in state houses across the country.
  • Securing Funding – Significant investment is needed to effectively implement and sustain comprehensive school mental health policies. Inseparable will identify funding pathways and advocate for increased funding for school mental health at the federal, state, and local levels.
  • Technical Assistance – The campaign will work with policymakers and other stakeholders at all levels of government to ensure that schools and districts have ready access to robust technical expertise as needed for policy and program implementation.

If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Crisis Text Line also provides free, 24/7, confidential support via text message to people in crisis when they text HOME to 741741.