Student Mental Health in a Changing World

Solutions Journalism Network

After 18 months of pandemic conditions, lockdowns, and restrictions, schools, educators, and communities are working harder than ever to address mental health concerns and decrease suicide rates by implementing approaches that focus specifically on school-aged populations.  Programs that cultivate positive teacher-student relationships function in collaboration with existing mental health services to broaden mental health care quality and access, meaning that struggling students can access care and treatment sooner.

In Montgomery County, Virginia, schools have found that adopting mental health days has met their students where they are at. North, in Ramsay, New Jersey, mental health training is led by teenagers in school who can identify mental health warning signs in their peers and and quickly attend to those signs as "first responders". A nonprofit program in Philadelphia is helping students stay on track through meditation. The 500-student Lapwai School District in Idaho takes an all-bases-covered approach to student well-being, including leveraging partnerships with the Nez Perce tribe and local community to address youth mental health. Learning from what's worked in other locations, both within state and nationally, Utah schools have found ways to improve access to mental health resources, including increased education around the importance of learning coping strategies and building healthy relationships.

Whether focused exclusively on students or more broadly on educational support systems including bus drivers, classroom aides, and parents, these efforts cut down on suicide rates, encourage resiliency, and focus on personal assets rather than problems.