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.
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.