The mental health crisis in the United States has quickly turned into an epidemic.
In America, nearly 32% of adults said they had symptoms of anxiety and depression in 2021, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic saw a 25% increase in depression and anxiety, the World Health Organization notes.
And that was just in the first year of the pandemic.
Children are never immune to mental health struggles. Millions of children in America are living with ADHD, depression, anxiety, and an array of behavioral conditions. Nearly 40% of children between 12 and 17 years old have recently reported feelings of hopelessness and sadness that they describe as persistent.
Eva Carlston Academy reviews how the fight against the mental health crisis has expanded into the hallways of American schools.
A Community Effort
If an American student does not report having a mental health challenge, they’re likely worried about one. A recent survey of Los Angeles students found that over half have some level of concern about their mental well-being.
In response, school districts have begun to regularly pull in help from community organizations, juvenile services, and other volunteers to address the complex mental health crisis for adolescents. It’s a comprehensive approach to a challenge that demands it.
Benefits of Teaming with Schools to Fight the Mental Health Crisis
Many elementary, middle, and high schools across the country have psychologists, counselors, and mental health specialists on staff. Others train teachers in understanding mental health conditions in children and specialized supportive techniques.
But every little bit helps, especially when community groups regularly work with schools to address the crisis. Some of the benefits include:
• It Widens the Scope of Services
With assistance from community organizations and mental health services, school staff can provide access to everyone from crisis counselors to emergency medical care. It’s a way to ensure that different levels of mental health needs get the tailored support that’s deserved.
• It Helps Create Necessary Outlets like 24/7 Crisis Hotlines
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, North Carolina’s Say Something Anonymous Reporting System received a smattering of tips across the state’s 115 school districts.
Now, calls have increased by nearly 80% and frequently include concerns about self-harm, bullying, drug use, and suicidal ideation, common issues related to mental health. It’s crisis counselors who work with schools to man these vital outlets.
• It Sets Children on the Right Track
According to the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools, students who can access interventional services related to behavioral health see improvements in not just mental health, but in academic achievement, social development, and time management.
For schools with limited resources, such interventional services are often out of reach.
In Connecticut, one school district worked with the Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut to review existing mental health programs that led to the development of the Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS) program for students experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder.
Schools continue to play an essential role in identifying and addressing mental health challenges for youth. With help from community advocates, professionals, and organizations, a far deeper impact can be made to effectively tackle the mental health crisis plaguing American children.