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It’s Mental Health Month. Check Out These Schools That Are Making Mental Health Services a Priority

It’s Mental Health Month. Check Out These Schools That Are Making Mental Health Services a Priority

Statistics say that 50 percent of students battling mental health issues drop out of school. That’s why more and more schools and districts are recognizing the very real need to improve the kinds of mental health services offered to students in need.

Massachusetts District Embarks on Journey to Develop Comprehensive Mental Health Services

John Crocker, guidance director for Methuen Public Schools, recently spoke to the Eagle-Tribune about the school district’s journey to establishing model mental health services.

Aware of the district’s previous missed opportunities in helping all students receive timely and effective mental health care, the district is one of several to team up with the University of Maryland’s Center for School Mental Health National Quality Initiative program to create comprehensive mental health system in schools.

Even though Massachusetts is typically considered one of the more innovative states when it comes to education, Methuen is the only district in the state participating in the initiative.

So far, the district has begun doing mental health screenings for students with parental consent "and coordinating follow up services for at-risk students who show symptoms of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, trauma, and disruptive behavior.”

It is currently in the process of seeking more funding to expand its guidance staff. Moving forward, the district will use data reporting to have other districts all over the country see the benefits of a “preventative model.” 

California School District Receives Over $1 Million to Hire Health and Wellness Coordinators

San Mateo Union High School District, which is in close proximity to Palo Alto, is a Silicon Valley town that has made national news not for innovation but for a tragic rash of student suicides over a short period of time. Now, the district has been inspired to work on the mental health services it offers.

It was recently announced that the district received a $1.4 million grant from the Peninsula Health Care District to expand the services it offers in-house.

The ultimate goal is to help students in-need be able to focus on school work and instructional time, says The Daily Journal.

"Under the collaborative effort, the high school district will operate the support program over the coming three years with consulting offered by the Stanford Center of Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing, and financing from the health care district.”

"An increased presence of mental health professionals would reduce the burden on teachers already facing a significant workload to educate students and who may not have the training necessary to identify or treat students with mental illness.” 

Parent Advocates for School Participation in Suicide Prevention Texting Service

While some schools are more proactive than others in working on establishing comprehensive mental health services, some districts are being pushed to offer services step-by-step.

Recently, a school board heard the “measured but emotional” request of a father who lost his son to suicide. Even though the father spent 10 years teaching crisis prevention to police offers, firefighters and nurses, he didn’t see the signs, said The Monticello Times.

Remembering how frequently his son used technology to communicate, he asked the board to consider participating in "Text-4-Life, a statewide suicide prevention call center that helps troubled teens converse with a counselor via text messaging.”

Where in-house services and support do not seem available to secretly struggling students, more and more districts are being urged to consider such measures. 

An Increased Focus on Mindfulness and Wellness Activities

An increasing number of schools are also looking for ways to focus on wellness and mindfulness activities.

Schools are beginning to recognize the importance of letting students know that being mindful of how their minds and bodies feel is crucial.

This month, for example, the Mount Vernon City School District in New York is honoring Mental Health Awareness Month by dedicating each week in the month to different ways to improve students’ mental wellness.

The district declared May 6 " Mind Wellness Day” and students throughout the district partook in a variety of events to teach them how to effectively manage their emotions.

Examples of activities include a "Heart Health and Jog-a-Thon” in gym class and adding yoga instruction to wellness activities.

"Daily announcements will ... include tips about exercise, health and proper nutrition, linking that to the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle to academic success,” according to an article in The Mount Vernon NY Patch.


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