Mental Health Awareness In Schools

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The Hope For Best To Hold K9 Walk Fundraiser For Mental Health Programs At Avon Schools

Mental Health Awareness Week: 12 Northeast Ohio high schools create unity video

The City of Avon is helping to bring mental health awareness through a K9 fundraising walk.

AVON, Ohio — An upcoming 1-mile K-9 walk/run endeavors to help bring more mental health awareness programs to Avon Local School District students.

The walk — with or without your own canine — will take place at 10 a.m. Sunday at Veterans Memorial Park in Avon. Registration and packet pickup begins at 8 a.m.

Lori Best Yeager is the founder and owner of The Hope for B.E.S.T. , which she created in 2020 after the sudden suicide of her brother, Dan Best.

Filled with grief about his death, Yeager found her own thoughts to be scattered and racing aimlessly.

There are millions of people silently suffering every day from thoughts they are too afraid or ashamed to share, said Yeager.

Who will listen? Will they judge me? Will they accept me? Will they understand what I am going through? Will they help me?

Their silent thoughts can keep them captive and a prisoner, burrowing themselves into their mind, like cancer quietly entering, unseen, taking up residence and then spreading.

The mission of The Hope for B.E.S.T. is to bring hope to all those suffering from their silent thoughts, said Yeager, and to stop the stigma surrounding mental health and bring encouragement to mental health awareness by acknowledging and accepting the reality that we all have struggles — physical, mental, emotional — and no one is immune from this reality and no one should ever battle alone.

Mental Illness Awareness Can Combat Stigma

Students who suffer from mental illnesses themselves, or those who have friends or family members who suffer from mental illnesses, can be affected by the stigma that is sometimes attached to mental illnesses.

People who dont fully understand mental illnesses may make incorrect judgments or unkind assessments of people who suffer from mental illnesses. People with mental illnesses may also face discrimination in their communities including in schools as well as other types of prejudice.

Increasing awareness of mental illness increases knowledge of mental illness. And with more knowledge, there is less stigma.

This means that students who have or suspect that they have mental illnesses may feel more comfortable reaching out for help. Students who live with a family member who has a mental illness will feel more empowered to talk about their experience and look for resources and support.

Understand Mental Health Needs Within The School

Its good for teachers and leaders to already have a top-down view of any students that may be experiencing mental health difficulties within the school. Whilst most schools and teachers will have a good insight into the individual backgrounds and circumstances of their students, looking particularly at any mental health issues and ensuring there is adequate support for them is the first place to start.

Having said that, many mental health issues go undetected from either a misdiagnosis or simply hesitance for students to come forward with any issues they may be having. As a result, its possible schools may not hear about a mental health disorder or crisis till further down the line.

Therefore, its more important than ever that teachers and school leaders learn the signs to know when a student is in trouble so that they can intervene before things become too serious.

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Mental Health Interventions In Schools

An empirically derived approach to map intensity and type of school strategies to the needs of students has been used in parts of the USA.40 This tiered approach41 includes universal strategies for all students, followed by interventions to assist selected students who face particular risks, and finally a tier with treatment interventions for those with the greatest needs. An advantage of this public health and tiered approach is that schools and teachers can support students with varying needs and also create classroom and whole-school environments that support the learning of all children.

Schools in many high-income countries have long delivered public health education and services, such as immunisation programmes and health and sex education.4244 Provision of mental health services in schools is quite new and mainly addresses the academic effect of mental health difficulties that are not being met by external mental health services. The specialty incorporates mental health promotion, prevention, and treatment. Many interventions address overlapping areas, showing the present movement towards multitiered systems of supports in which school mental health is delivered across a full continuum of care. The ultimate aim is to promote student wellbeing, prevent the development or worsening of mental health problems, and improve the effectiveness of education.45,46

What Is Mental Health

Healthy Habits ~ May is Mental Health Awareness Month

The World Health Organization defines mental health as mental well-being in which people can realize their abilities, cope up with the normal stress , work productively, and contribute to the community in a positive way. Mental health is the foundation for the well-being of people and the effective functioning of a community. Mental health has an impact on:

  • Educational outcome
  • Alcohol & drug abuse
  • 10th October is celebrated as world mental health dayto raise awareness on the issue, around the world and to mobilize efforts in support of it.

    This day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their experience and discuss what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.

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    Understanding Student Mental Health

    The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted students’ mental health. Due to the stigma around mental health, some students may feel less inclined to openly share about their struggles. Despite how it may seem, many students experience mental health issues.

    A survey by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors shows college student mental health has been a growing concern since 2013. The survey found 95% of college counseling center directors believed the number of students with significant psychological problems was an increasing campus issue.

    The directors also reported that 21% of students who visit the campus counseling center presented severe mental health concerns. At the same time, 40% of students presented mild health concerns.

    More recent data published in 2021 echoes the same sentiment on mental health for students. The University of Florida’s mental health clinic saw a 106% increase of adult patients attending their first appointment in August between 2019 and 2020. The amount increased by another 4% in 2021.

    How Schools Can Raise Awareness And Drive Change

    May marks Mental Health Awareness month and this years focus is on Risky Business. Mental Health America , the organization that started this initiative, explained risky business on their website saying, These include risk factors such as risky sex, prescription drug misuse, internet addiction, excessive spending, marijuana use and troublesome exercise patterns.

    One cannot help but notice the fact that a large number of the aforementioned risky behaviours are more likely to be observed in school and college students. Unsafe sex, prescription drug abuse and internet addiction are increasingly common among adolescents and young adults. In addition, there are a host of other problems like stress, anxiety, low self-esteem, depression and eating disorders that young students often grapple with.

    Addressing mental health and helping raise awareness about it must therefore be carried out with strong impetus in schools and colleges, so that any imminent mental problems in students can be diagnosed early, enabling better solutions through counselling, intervention and support.

    Here are some ways mental health awareness can be raised at the school level to give every student a positive environment and prevent or better address mental problems that affect students.

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    Most Schools Are Encouraging And Spreading Awareness About Mental Health And Are Acting As A Safe Space For The Kids To Open Up As The School Plays A Major Role In The Development Of The Child After The Home Environment Teachers And Helpers Should Work In Sync With The Parents Here’s How

    To work on the prevention of mental health issues in young children, it is important to raise awareness about the problem and schools are one of the best places to start mental health awareness. The schools play a vital role in overseeing the mental balance and well-being of the kids to ensure happy and healthy growth.

    In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Puja Kapoor, Paediatric Neurologist and Co-Founder of Continua Kids, shared, The first signs of helping is identification of the concern. As toddlers and children have less verbal expressivity of the concern, most of the problems have to be picked up by the caretakers, teachers and parents. As the presentation of the mental concerns could be subtle in the initial days, any deviation from the child behaviour should be observed carefully. The teachers should be educated about the early signs and symptoms of the different mental concerns.

    According to Dr Dipti Reddy Nallu, Psychiatrist at Citizens Specialty Hospital in Hyderabad, teachers should help the students to understand that it is better to resolve the conflicts than keep thinking about them. She advised, Students should be encouraged to eat healthy and stay fit. They should be taught how to relieve anxiety and stress. Physical activities such as playing sports and meditation helps relieve anxiety and stress. Besides having open communication with honesty and without being judgemental helps to open conversations with the students and know if they are in trouble.

    Anxiety Symptoms In Children Are Often Minimized Or Ignored

    Jefferson High School senior creates youth mental health awareness walk

    In the school environment, children face many challenges. Some are better at managing these than others.

    Many children feel anxious, ranging from mild symptoms to more severe forms, such as panic attacks. When these symptoms are ignored, they can lead to depression, lack of performance and increased risk of substance abuse.

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    Young People’s Mental Health Is A Major Public Health Concern

    The figures usually indicated for diagnosable mental disorders suggest that between 12% and 22% of all youngsters under age 18 are in need of services for mental, emotional, or behavioral problems.1 The picture worsens when one expands the focus beyond the limited perspective on diagnosable mental disorders to encompass the number of young people experiencing psychosocial problems and those who are at risk of not maturing into responsible adults. The reality for many large urban schools is that well over 50% of their students manifest significant learning, behavior, and emotional problems.2 For a large proportion of these youngsters, the problems are rooted in the restricted opportunities and difficult living conditions associated with poverty. Almost every current policy discussion stresses the crisis nature of the problem in terms of future health and economic implications for individuals and for society and calls for major systemic reforms.

    Have A Place Students Can Go To Talk And A Strong Open

    Having a strong open-door policy means that students feel comfortable and safe about going to any member of staff about a problem. Even if teachers are not especially mental health-trained, having an open willingness to listen and making sure students know about this will go a long way.

    However, every school should also have a designated safe space where students know they can go to talk. Ideally this will involve at least one trained professional, but it could also have voluntary student counsellors on hand to help.

    Teachers should also be aware of when its time to escalate a situation by referring a student to the schools help centre, or even to a local mental health team. Most of the time this may seem like common sense, but its also something that can be better learned through basic mental health training, as mentioned earlier.

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    Why Mental Health Awareness Is Important In Schools

    Schools and child development experts alike understand that most of todays students dont suffer from major mental disorders. Rather, most of them suffer from low levels of mental health. According to a survey on youths by the Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, in every ten students, four children aged between 15 and 29 suffer from anxiety, and another quarter report that they have a serious mental disorder.

    While the number of children who are suffering from serious mental disorders is declining, those who suffer from lesser categories are finding it difficult to lead a normal and healthy life. The main reasons for this can be attributed to lack of attention to mental health and the misconception of what exactly is mental health.

    Progress Is Being Made

    High School Mental Health Posters For Schools

    A growing number of schools are beginning to realize the importance of mental health education. They are working to create an environment where mental health issues are recognized and support is offered.

    School-employed mental health professionals work with teachers to provide support and with parents to better understand students needs and implement appropriate support.

    In July 2018, New York became the first state in the U.S. to require mental health education for all students. The School Mental Health program will promote the healthy emotional, social, and behavioral development of all the students.

    It will also take into account the general well-being of school staff and families, and collaborate with other student support and services. Mental health needs will be assessed, and access will be provided to mental health services and programs.

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    Examples Of Activities For Mental Health Awareness Week

    The Worth-it team has put together some easy activities you can try during mental health week , for example, using gratitude jars in your classroom and practising undercover kindness â head over to our mental health week activities blog to find out more.

    A recommended approach is to support pupil mental health during transitions and life changes . A really valuable time to launch your mental health awareness activities is at the start of a new academic year. This supports pupils and students who might be new to the school â for example year 7s entering secondary school â and helps promote your school as a supportive and open community where children and young people can talk about any worries and concerns right from the start, helping to add to their sense of belonging and reducing isolation and loneliness.

    For staff as well as students itâs good to know that a school prioritises mental health â teachers with good mental health can better support students and take less time off with stress-related illness.

    Itâs vital that the practice of mental health activities is consistent, not tokenistic and it helps to build these in as part of a whole school approach to mental health.

    What Do We Know About The Effectiveness Of These Programs

    As reported in US News and World Report, a few small studies have found that teaching high school students about mental health improved their attitudes toward treatment, increased willingness to seek help from a counselor and boosted their overall mental health literacy. There is a pressing need for more studies to determine programs effectiveness and identify ways to improve them.

    Mental health education is not yet mandatory in schools. Until it is, teachers and administrators need to help shine the light on the concept of self-care. And, they need to emphasize the fact that mental health is an integral part of health.

    THE BOTTOM LINE

    A cultural shift in attitudes about mental health needs to start with the young. The only way theyre going to understand more about mental health and stop stigmatizing is if they receive the necessary education.

    Schools need to foster an environment in schools where mental health issues can be identified and addressed without being stigmatized. Awareness should be raised about mental health crises, such as self-harm, substance abuse, eating disorders and other negative coping behavior needs to be created.

    If everyone in schools is empowered with knowledge, and dialogue is encouraged, students will have the freedom to open up about what they are going through. This will allow them to get the support they need before its too late.

    Making mental health education a mandatory part of the school curriculum is long overdue.

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    Search Strategy And Selection Criteria

    We searched the literature with Scopus to identify meta-analyses, systematic reviews, and narrative reviews about school-based mental health interventions published between Jan 1, 2000, and May 31, 2014, with no language restrictions. We used combinations of the search terms mental health or psych*, and school*, and intervention* or service and review. This search identified 37 articles we added further landmark studies and sought additional expert opinion to ensure the most relevant information was included. We used the Institute of Medicine framework to help categorise the range of different interventions that are undertaken in school settings.40 The framework differentiates between mental health promotion, prevention, and treatment, and although some interventions will span across these categories, we adhered to this framework. The interventions consist of a scale ranging from universal interventions that are mainly mental health promotion and prevention interventions, to more selective interventions for children at high risk of developing disorders. Interventions that are indicated target children with identified disabilities and include both prevention and treatment.40

    Developing Effective School Mental Health Programs

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    Efforts to care for the emotional well-being of children and youth can extend beyond the classroom and into the entire school. School-based mental health programs can focus on promoting mental wellness, preventing mental health problems, and providing treatment.

    Effective programs:

    • Promote the healthy social and emotional development of all children and youth
    • Recognize when young people are at risk for or are experiencing mental health problems
    • Identify how to intervene early and appropriately when there are problems

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