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Ways Schools Can Address Growing Mental Health Concerns

Ways Schools Can Address Growing Mental Health Concerns

Recent surveys and data have revealed that mental health treatment for U.S. children is at a record high. Earlier this month, a group of students and their teacher filed a class action suit against the Compton Unified School District for not doing enough to help students deal with childhood trauma resulting in mental health issues in its schools.

In other words, addressing mental health issues in schools is a hot topic for which currently there is no clear stance on what schools exact role in the matter is.

KQED News has, in the wake of the growing concern for mental health treatment in schools, defined several initiatives schools across the country have taken to help students in need.

In Minnesota, a small pilot program that began in 2007 has spread to "645 schools in 71 counties," and "removes the barriers that often keep children from getting the help they need: transportation to and from appointments, insurance coverage and lengthy waits for appointments," according to the article.

As a result, Minnesota boasts the largest school-based mental health program in the country, the article said, and takes away depending on just parents to seek help for their troubled children.

After all, it is teachers who spend a majority of time getting to know students and becoming aware of certain behavioral issues that could translate to a need for mental health treatment.

"During the first five years of the program, practitioners found that more than half of the children treated by therapists or mental health professionals in school were seeing someone for the first time, and half of these same children were getting treatment for a serious mental illness," according to the article.

And not only are more children being treated and helped, attendance rates state-wide are increasing.

Some schools have also implemented ways of performing mental health screening through a simple test called "the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale, or C-SSRA," which is "a brief survey that has been shown to identify accurately individuals at risk of suicide."

Other experts believe adding exercise into the school day and promoting longer adolescent school cycles are ways to promote good mental health practices for students.

"Researchers at the University of Minnesota who studied the impact of later start times in eight high schools found improvements in grades, attendance and punctuality, as well as a 70 percent reduction in auto accidents," the article said.

One expert, Dr. Amy Saltzman, director of the Association for Mindfulness in Education, encourages school to begin teaching mindfulness in the classroom, or ways to promote emotional control in this growing age of children diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and ADHD

To read about more ways KQUED's suggests to address mental health problems in schools, click here. Also, pease take our survey below to let us and others know how well students' mental health is being addressed in your school.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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