By Jenna Cerruti, August 24 2015
Kids and teens are gearing up to head back to school, but more than 12 million of them will face a mental health disorder over the next year. Sometimes these issues aren’t addressed in schools or by parents, and can result in substance use, status offenses and ultimately, involvement with the juvenile justice system.
As juvenile justice and behavioral health experts, we can empower our networks to provide support to young people struggling with a mental health disorders, so they can continue on a productive path inside and outside the classroom.
Mental Health America has launched a back to school toolkit to equip parents and school staff with tools and resources about why mental health matters, how to identify the early signs of mental health disorders, and how to best support kids. Further, it features recommendations for reaching out to service providers when a mental health disorder is detected.
Last week, Education Week emphasized the importance of this issue in its article Helping Students With Mental-Health Issues Return to School. It reiterates that teachers typically spend the most time with kids and teens, and are therefore positioned to detect behavioral health issues among students. The article explains:
“We need a coalition of committed educators, mental-health professionals, policymakers, and families to confront this issue collectively, and we need research to guide effective back-to-school interventions and supports. Our youths deserve it, and if we are to keep them healthy and in school—let alone engaged and thriving—we need a plan.”
Deploying a mental health toolkit is just the start, but sharing this across your networks can heighten awareness and spark action this school year, improving the lives of the 12 millions kids and teens facing behavioral health challenges.
We’d love to hear about other resources you look to for promoting behavioral health practices in schools. Share in the comments below.
Updated: August 24 2015