Report: Mental Health Services Inadequate for the Current Needs of Students
- By Dian Schaffhauser
As any number of
studies has found, students are struggling with mental health
challenges, created and exacerbated by the pandemic.
In an April and
May 2020 survey
one in four youngsters ages 13–19 reported an increase in sleep
loss due to worry, feeling unhappy or depressed, feeling constantly
under strain, and loss of confidence in themselves;
An August 2020
report found one quarter of respondents ages 18–24
had considered suicide in the 30 days prior to completing the
project found that emergency department visits
related to mental health increased 24% for 5–11-year-olds and 31%
for 12–17-year-olds between January and October 2020.
availability of mental health services is inadequate to the current
need. A new report
from the U.S. Department of Education has suggested that there's a
"unique opportunity" right now to rethink the mental health
help provided by schools and programs by dedicating a portion of
relief funding to a dramatic expansion of social workers, school
counselors, school nurses, and school psychologists available to
Aside from trying to
build up staff, as the report noted, there are more modest steps
schools can take to help their communities.
highlights the seven main challenges in providing mental health
support to kids, along with ways to counteract those obstacles.
For example, for the
first challenge referenced, "rising mental health needs and
disparities among children and student groups," the
recommendation is to "prioritize wellness for each and every
child, student, educator and provider." How? By doing
assessments to determine the specific needs, promoting and embedding
wellness and "de-stressing" activities into the day, and
promoting connectedness among adults in small and big ways.
investing in a small number of evidence-based practices that are
matched explicitly to the needs of the community and have the
potential of impacting children and students with identified needs,"
the report offered.
The new resource is
intended to supplement and build on the information already published
in three COVID-19 handbooks produced by the federal agency:
"Our efforts as
educators must go beyond literacy, math, history, science and other
core subjects to include helping students to build the social,
emotional, and behavioral skills they will need to fully access and
participate in learning and make the most of their potential and
future opportunities," said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel
Cardona, in a statement. "Amid the pandemic, we know that our
students have experienced so much. We can't unlock students'
potential unless we also address the needs they bring with them to
the classroom each day. As educators, it's our responsibility to
ensure that we are helping to provide students with a strong social
and emotional foundation so that they also can excel academically."
The report is openly
the Department of Education's website.
About the Author
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.