Addressing Student Mental Health
Seventy-one percent of school boards responding to a Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) survey this year said student mental health needs are one of the biggest problems facing public schools. How do you think the CASD should address these needs?
Our students are facing real mental health challenges that were made worse by the pandemic. Consider for a moment:
• Over 40% of high school students feel persistently sad or hopeless and one-third report poor mental health.
• In 2021, one in five students seriously considered attempting suicide.
These and other persistent problems like bullying and school violence, along with housing and food insecurity, have negative consequences on absenteeism, lower test scores, and higher drop-out rates.
Simply stated, attending to students’ overall well-being, including mental health, is fundamental to their academic success. Healthy students learn and thrive, and schools have a role to play in close partnership with parents.
That’s why we have serious concerns when national groups who want to cut mental health counselors and school nurses, or promote policies that marginalize LGBT students and racial minorities, are spending thousands of dollars to get our opponents elected. What agenda are they pushing and what policies will they support if elected?
Our job as school board members is to ensure all students feel welcomed and connected. If we are going to help them succeed, we must look at the whole student, particularly those disproportionately affected by bullying, poverty, or mental health challenges.
How we address student mental health needs:
1. Support counselors and school nurses, and potentially hire additional mental health specialists or social work staff.
2. Continually monitor enforcement of anti-bullying and non-discrimination polices.
3. Expand drop-out prevention and intervention programs, including at-risk counselors.
4. Continue the district’s Student Assistance Program – a team approach to identifying individual student needs and getting them the help they need to stay in school and succeed.