Make a Difference Advance School
Mental health
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Call to Action!

Youth MOVE is calling on youth advocates from across the country to advocate for policy to advance comprehensive school mental health systems. Our School Mental Health Review Committee identified four key policy areas: mental health education, mental health training for teachers and school staff, mental health programs & services in schools, and restorative justice in schools.

Ready to roll up your sleeves? Find information, resources, and examples on each policy area on our “Policy” page. The “Advocacy at a Glance” page offers tips on making sure your voice is heard!

What are Comprehensive School Mental Health Systems?

Comprehensive school mental health systems provide an array of supports and services that promote mental health and well-being while reducing the prevalence and severity of mental illness. These systems are built on a foundation of education professionals, including administrators, educators, and specialized instructional support personnel (e.g. school psychologists, school social workers, school counselors, school nurses, and other school health professionals), in strategic collaboration with students, families, and community health and mental health providers.

Including youth in developing, planning, and implementing comprehensive school mental health systems achieves better outcomes.

To learn more about comprehensive school mental health, visit this document.

Why is school mental health important?

Over the past decade, the mental health and well-being of youth has been declining:

– In 2019, 16 percent of youth ages 12-17 reported experiencing a past-year major depressive episode, compared to 8 percent in 2009.

– Between 2007 and 2016, the rate of youth emergency room visits related to self-harm increased 329 percent.

– Between 2000 to 2016, death by suicide among youth increased by over 30%. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people.

The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to these alarming trends. For instance, data show that youth mental health-related emergency department visits have increased and about a quarter of parents report that their child’s mental health is worse than before the pandemic.

Despite the increased need for mental health care, access to services and support is limited, particularly among youth of color.

Youth are 6 times more likely to complete mental health treatment when offered in schools than in other community settings. Of youth who receive mental health services, most receive them in schools.