Throughout the month of May, organizations boost their efforts to raise awareness of those living with mental or behavioral health issues—and reduce the stigma people may feel when they talk about or seek help for those issues.
This year, there’s a spotlight on young people. Many studies and surveys have pointed out the crisis proportions of mental health challenges in children and adolescents. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released survey data indicating that 1 in 3 high school students experienced poor mental health during the pandemic. Female students and those who identify as LGBTQ were impacted the most.
Protective Factors for Youth
With so much information available about students’ mental health—including AllHere’s webinar with David Adams, a board member at CASEL, recapped in this blog—we’d like to look at the many steps schools and districts can take to strengthen their students’ well-being.
Build connections: The CDC survey showed that adolescents who felt more connected to people at their schools had better mental health. (Unfortunately, this protective effect was not found among students who had experienced racism.) They encourage school leaders to focus on establishing a safe and supportive space where all students feel connected to people who care about them.
Provide accurate, reliable information: There’s plenty of research and expert knowledge about mental health—and also plenty of misinformation. Sites like Youth.gov are accessible, confidential, and full of helpful facts for those old enough to browse independently. It’s worth noting—as the National Institutes of Mental Health does in its sharable graphics and videos—that children and adolescents are also going through phases of development that can make it hard to understand what’s normal and what’s a cause for concern.
Promote awareness: While static information on graphics and posters is helpful, peer voices are especially impactful. In May, organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Health are inviting people who have experienced mental health conditions to share their stories—and for those who have not to build compassion and empathy by reading their experiences.
Offer programs and access to resources on campus: Studies have shown that comprehensive school mental health programs help students achieve academically and give them better access to experiences that build social skills and self-awareness. Many schools have already added social workers, counselors, psychologists, and other mental health professionals to address the effects of the pandemic. Some are also training their staff and teachers to recognize early warning signs and start the referral process.
AllHere’s Commitment to Student Mental Health
When we talk about our adaptive, evidence-based system, we often focus on the benefits of the AI-powered chatbot. But the human component—our Family Success Team—is crucial to ensuring smooth communication, especially in situations where a concern has become a crisis.
The 24/7 availability of two-way text messaging reassures families and school staff that resources are just an SMS away. And the system is designed to escalate the most urgent messages to a designated person at the school.
Connect with an AllHere team member to discuss how your schools can utilize tech to increase mental health supports.