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  • Writer's pictureJulio Avael

Improving The Mental Health of Children Through School-Based Interventions

In the wake of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the world is soberly reminded of the ever-present pandemic that’s rattling the lives of school-aged children all around the world.

With mental health issues and other behavioral problems on a consistent rise for students, there is an outcry for school officials and psychological experts to shift focus on forming programs to catch these concerns before they tip the scale to being lifetime troubles for affected individuals. In the following article, Julio Avael discusses the improvement of mental health through school-based interventions.

Mental Health in Schools

The unfortunate truth is this: suicide is one of the leading causes of death in children ages 10-14. Children in this age range are typically in late elementary school to early high school, making it one of the most influential periods of their lives. These formative years are essential to cultivating a healthy self-image and confidence.

Statistically, it can be argued that there is not enough being done in schools to ensure the mental well-being of the children of the world. Unfortunately, the occurrence of COVID-19 exacerbated these conditions even further.

COVID-19s Effect on Mental Health in Schools

In April 2020, mental healthcare group Active Minds surveyed almost 3,500 late-teenaged students recording data on the correlation between the pandemic and their psychological wellbeing. The results were harrowing.

It was found that 20% of the college students surveyed noted that their mental health had significantly worsened since the start of the pandemic, and this is in an age range where the brain is almost entirely developed. 74% of the survey participants also expressed their difficulty in maintaining and keeping set routines.

These struggles were only furthered by the fact that 55% of the students confessed that they didn’t know who to go to when they were struggling with their mental health, stating that they were unaware of the resources available to them (in person, online, etc.).

Mental Health for The Minority Student

While this data is scary on its own, it’s believed that the numbers could actually be far worse.

There have only been a handful of studies on minority students and how poor mental health affects them, but the results clearly showed how a shocking majority of students in the LGBTQ+ and Black, Asian, and Hispanic communities are struggling with some type of worrying mental health issues- including suicidal thoughts.

Student Behavioral Health Incentive Program

The SBHIP is a program that brings together the school systems in southern California with the mental health resources also present in the community. Their main goal is to be able to intercept and intervene during key moments in time where self-image issues tend to rear their heads. The 3-year program will increase behavioral health provider coordination with select public and charter TK-12 grade schools. If notably positive results are found after the duration of the program, it could mean big things for the state of California and the rest of the nation.

The program itself will cover behavioral health screenings, teach suicide prevention strategies, and also talk about substance abuse disorders. On top of that, the program will also personalize mental health care for those with cultural needs.

Suicide Prevention Hotline

Another massive change that students need to be aware of is the suicide prevention hotline being changed to a 3-digit number: 988.

The sole purpose of the hotline has not changed in spite of the phone number differing. The number will connect individuals to trained counselors who can help them through times of mental crisis, and hold the ability to call law enforcement if they deem it necessary.

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