There is a growing concern centered around this generation of children and their mental health. The stats are alarming as they paint us a picture that is no longer avoidable, and as times progress, we see more and more suicidal events from children and teens. The current events in the country are affecting children every day; the banned books, the LBGTQ+ debate, individualized learning structures, CRT… the list goes on. The demand for child therapy is at an all-time high compared to before the pandemic.
- Before COVID, nearly 20% of children had a mental disorder
- Only about 20% of those children actually received help
- A 2020 survey noted that 71% of parents say the pandemic took a major toll on their child
- And 69% said it was the worst thing their child has experienced
- Approximately 1100 high schoolers also said they felt unhappy/depressed
- Emergency Room visits regarding mental health emergencies increased by 24% (for ages 5-11), increased by 31% (for ages 12-17), compared to the stats from 2019
The bottom line: There are not enough resources for children and teens.
Acknowledging Mental Health in the Classroom
Let’s start with the issue of funding.
The American Rescue Plan Act provided short-term funding for individuals, businesses, and schools to cope with the quick changes that the pandemic caused. A portion of these school funds was to go towards providing better mental health resources for schools. However, since that funding was short-lived, some child therapists were hired short-term -OR- the schools focused on providing adequate training for teachers to learn psychological principles which could be utilized in the classroom.
The new skills that teachers learned would be beneficial to help students cope in real-time with subjects and events outside of the pandemic as well. The kids also end up learning these useful mental health skills, proving that psychology is a sustainable science and something that is to be taught and shared.
Incorporating into the Classrooms
In this day and time, it’s acceptable to teach lessons about anxiety and trauma within the curriculum, especially with help from psychological professionals. There are important programs to train teachers on how to properly equip students with emotional intelligence skills. (Check out Mental Health Primers through the APA and the Top 20 Principles for K-12).
Teachers addressing Trauma
With more students being affected by trauma, teachers are feeling unequipped on how to properly deal with it. Only 15% of teachers say they feel comfortable talking about grief and trauma with their students; however, a part of that could be due to some school district’s policies.
This is why I feel as passionate as I do about educating non-psychology professionals because understanding psychology can provide a much better insight into how to tackle some of these difficult situations.
There are many programs being worked on, created, implemented, and legislated to help provide better funding to support student mental health and safety guidelines. With the increasing suicide rates, mental illness diagnoses, and more, it’s important to remain optimistic and proactive about supporting mental health legislation, not only for our children but for society as a whole.
Check out the APA article that inspired this blog!
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