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  • Greg Smith

School Systems and Mental Health Issues

Julio Avael has more than 20 years of experience in healthcare, education, and media and has excelled in his past positions through his ability to help businesses create more effective management strategies and break into new markets.

Mr. Avael knows between 10-20% of children and adolescents experience various mental health issues, while the majority of them do not receive professional care. For many children and adolescents, their school systems are trying to create comprehensive programs to help address these needs.

Post Pandemic Needs May Be Stronger Than Ever

With many children not seeing their classrooms for much of the 2020-2021 school year and with a world filled with anxiety about COVID-19, school systems may play an even bigger part in managing their students’ mental health issues going into the 2021-2022 school year.

According to the National Education Association (NEA), at least 10 million students between the ages of 13 and 18 need some type of professional help with mental health issues. The most common issues include depression, anxiety, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and bipolar disorder and many do not have access to treatment.

With school budgets stretched tight nationwide, finding the money to support mental health issues may be difficult. Many school districts are working to build a plan between schools and community systems.

The Perfect Storm of Mental Health Awareness

With a rise in school shootings across the country prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, America knew there were mental health issues in the schools. Lawmakers, parents and educators were quick to react to the spate of shootings and demand increased mental health services in the classrooms. Schools were not necessarily equipped to handle these needs.

Post pandemic, the anxiety, depression and fear levels of students has grown, so now plans need to be implemented to address the mental health issues of students across America.

Educators know that untreated mental illness also has an impact on learning ability. They believe school systems must provide professional development for staff and community members so emotional learning competencies are included into curriculums.

In 2014, the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools did a study and found that students who receive positive behavioral interventions see improvements across the board including academic achievements and beyond.

The report says students who receive mental health services can see improvements in their learning behavior, they learn how to manage their time better, are able to set goals for themselves and they have less absenteeism and suspensions from schools.

How can school systems incorporate mental health awareness for students?

Educators believe there is a tiered system of mental health services that can benefit all students in schools.

· Universal prevention for all students can be provided to promote healthy social and emotional understanding skills.

· Selective interventions should be done for students who exhibit risky behaviors to help them learn social and emotional skills to function better in class and at home and to help them correct problematic behaviors in the classroom.

· Finally, students who exhibit serious problem behaviors and emotions should receive indicated interventions from the school system and community providers.

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