Student Mental Health in Decline During 2022–2023 School Year

A report released this month shows declining student mental health in K–12 schools during the current school year. These declines are affecting academic performance, particularly in math and reading scores.

The survey, “The State of Student Mental Health Survey,” conducted by the ECINS (Empowering Communities with Integrated Network Systems), was conducted in December 2022 of 353 U.S. K–12 school social workers, superintendents, teachers, and counselors. Respondents answered 12 questions anonymously, and the results are concerning, ECINS noted in its report, which also includes suggestions for tackling the problem.

Key findings show that respondents “strongly agree” or “agree” with the following:

  • 84% said adolescent stress, while usually normal, is worse this school year. It correlates with the IES School Pulse Panel survey from December 2022 that there are more frequent “acts of disrespect towards teachers and staff and declining academic performance.”

  • 89% said math and reading scores have dropped sharply. This also correlates with NAEP’s 2022 “Long-Term Trend Assessment” scores for age 9 students, which declined “5 points in reading and 7 points in mathematics compared to 2020. This is the largest average score decline in reading since 1990, and the first ever score decline in mathematics,” NAEP said.

  • 70% said students are willing to confide about their mental and emotional issues with a trusted adult at school.

  • 88% said they wish they had more tools or resources to help students, and 81% said their school districts do not have the means to provide that help.

  • 35% said their school has a reporting tool for supporting student mental health, and only 33% said their school has the technology to “identify, track, and enhance students’ mental health outcomes.”

"The findings of our State of Student Mental Health Survey are deeply concerning and highlight the pressing need for effective solutions to address the alarming trends in student mental health,” said Gary Pettengell, co-founder and CEO at ECINS. “Our survey provides critical insight into the challenges faced by education professionals and identifies practical solutions to support student recovery and success. It is time for an all-in approach to help schools provide the support students need in these challenging times."

While technology alone cannot solve the problem of student mental health challenges, it can make the process of getting students the help they need more streamlined, ECINS said. It suggests that school districts acquire “a proven, effective, and documented collaboration process” that can quickly allow educators and staff to refer students to support services. Such technology can track students’ progress to help them overcome their challenges and succeed in school.

To read the full report, visit the download page.

ECINS is a provider of student support and case management software, which allows school personnel to “assess, manage, record, report, and securely share essential information about students with key stakeholders across schools and districts — all on one HIPAA-compliant system.” For more information, visit the ECINS home page.

About the Author

Kate Lucariello is a former newspaper editor, EAST Lab high school teacher and college English teacher.