May is Mental Health Awareness Month and the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) has announced several efforts to support students with mental health challenges.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause stress, affect emotional well-being and intensify mental health needs. The Protecting Youth Mental Health: The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory identified that mental health needs in young people continue to rise with symptoms of anxiety and depression doubling during the pandemic. Though increases in distress symptoms are common during disasters, most people cope well and do not go on to develop mental health disorders. Resiliency can be learned and developed, especially with home, school and community supports.
I often told my children, unless they had an 8x10 glossy photo of an event or occurrence or unless they were told a piece of information directly from the person(s) involved, it could not be considered a truth. In the last couple of months, 8x10 photos have been figuratively developed and words from the stakeholders’ mouths have been recorded. Across the country, students have spoken and it’s time to listen.
Earlier this week, the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) introduced a student wellness and success page on its website. ODE created the page to provide information to school districts, community partners and parents about ODE-allocated funding to support student wellness and success.
Every year, Ohio’s high schoolers continue to look better and better on paper (higher test scores, better grades), and yet rates of youth mental illness continue to rise. Many high schoolers’ experiences are defined by chronic stress, sleepless nights, and panic attacks; but in competitive high school environments, mental health is extremely difficult to talk about.
Across our country's public schools, we are numbly aware of shootings, bullying and youth suicides that highlight the mental health needs of our most vulnerable students. What we miss, at times, is the serious mental health needs of students who perform at the highest standards, are loved by friends and teachers, and seem to have it all together. The Student Achievement Leadership Team (SALT) were introduced to the needs of these students at a recent SALT meeting.