The Stigma surrounding adults afflicted with mental health challenges can sometimes prevent individuals from seeking therapy. Now, research indicates that the same holds true for school aged children.
Schools across the country are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of addressing mental health issues within their population. One example is the Hartford County Public Schools in the Baltimore area.
The school system reports that students from each middle and high school in the district are organizing a new Student Mental Health Council. The council will promote mental health and reduce the Stigma surrounding mental health issues in schools.
HCPS Mental Health Specialist Christina Alton says the council will strive for each student to have access to support for stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health challenges.
The Child Mind Institute reports that half of all mental illness occurs before the age of 14, and 75 percent by the age of 24—highlighting the urgent need to create systemic approaches to the problem. “One in five students in this country need treatment,” says Dr. David Anderson, senior director of the Institute’s ADHD and Behavior Disorders Center.
Kathy Reamy is a school counselor in La Plata, Md., and chair of the National Education Association’s School Counselor Caucus.
“The public’s natural response is to say we need more mental health services and programs, and we do,” Reamy says but much of the national conversation has been inherently reactive, focusing on “crisis response”—to school shootings in particular—rather than a systematic approach to helping students with their mental health needs.
According to a study by the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools, students who receive positive behavioral health interventions see improvements on a range of behaviors related to academic achievement, beyond letter grades or test scores. Today’s high school students are facing higher stress and anxiety rates than any other generation. Source: Gary R’nel
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