Preparing for student and educator mental health this school year is more important than ever. The risk of mental and behavioral health problems for children has been on the rise for decades and the COVID-19 pandemic only made it worse. Additionally, it turned “education-as-usual” on its head. Aside from the primary and secondary trauma students may have experienced in the past 18 months, educators have faced their own traumas. One report from the Kaiser Family Foundation suggests that
rates of anxiety and depression quadrupled during the pandemic
psychological triage is needed for educators as well as students.
With students returning to school for the new year, there have already been fatal or potentially fatal reports on campuses. Numerous instances of loaded guns, bomb threats, and suicide attempts on campuses have already occurred. There is a large gap between the social-emotional-learning (SEL) instruction delivered in schools to the signs that indicate a student is on a path to harm. Is your school ready to identify and support at-risk students within this gap?
Does your school have:
- a designated rapid risk screener?
- clear intervention strands for students?
- prepared educators who can help mitigate student risk?
- a program to bridge the gap between SEL and signs of suicide?
In addition to having the tools necessary to identify students at risk, it is also crucial to support the mental health needs of educators. However, as with all challenges, difficult times present opportunities. One silver lining has highlighted the value of mental health supports in schools for everyone on campus.
During the past year and a half all students experienced social isolation, especially from peers. All students will now require extended practice with a variety of skills, including peer relations and coping skills, in order to succeed in social settings again. This school year, more than any other, it is crucial that teachers “teach” these types of behavioral and wellness skills to all students, pre-kindergarten through high school.
However, teachers can only teach student wellness when they themselves are well.
This fact presents a whole slew of additional questions. For example, do teachers at your schools feel ready to teach behavior? Will they be supported in handling students who require more intensive supports? How will your educators identify and prioritize students with greater needs? What research-based interventions does your school offer to improve student mental and behavioral health? Does your district offer resources for educators to address their own mental health needs?
If your school, or your child’s school, does not have acceptable answers to these questions, we can help. Healthy Minds, Safe Schools can help create a strategic plan to support the mental health and safety of your entire campus. We are school safety by design. Contact us now to request a free consultation and begin saving lives today.