There is an Epidemic of Anxiety among Today’s Students. By high school and college, many students have run out of steam. Anxiety – the mental-health tsunami of their generation – has caught up with them.
Are Schools Ready to Tackle the Mental Health Crisis? Many schools and communities [are] beginning to think about mental health early. “We’re seeing progress that hopefully will continue. We can’t wait until a student is at a crisis state. Like diabetes or cancer, you should never wait until stage 4 to intervene.”
Student mental health is of critical importance. Mental health wellness is comprised of emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Mental health influences an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and actions. In the school setting, a student’s mental health affects their energy level and optimism, concentration, dependability, and performance; and determines how students handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.
Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including biological factors, life experiences such as trauma, abuse, or racism, and family history. There are several prevalent mental health disorders that present in students in the school setting: mood disorders (such as depression or bipolar disorder); anxiety disorders.; personality disorders; psychotic disorders (such as schizophrenia); eating disorders; trauma-related disorders (such as post-traumatic stress disorder); and substance use disorders. Unaddressed, these mental health issues can become emotionally, psychologically and socially disruptive and life-threatening. With help, however, individuals with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely.
The following resources are provided for school faculty, staff, and students to become educated about the signs and symptoms of mental health concerns; to promote mental health wellness; and to provide support to reduce stigma and assist students in obtaining necessary help. Refer to Health Smart Virginia’s Trauma Informed, Now What? section for additional trauma-informed and trauma-responsive educator resources.
The Virginia Health Education Standards of Learning (SOLs) were updated and adopted in 2020. The new 2020 Mental Wellness/Social Emotional Skills standards for Virginia K-12 schools are now available. The full set of 2020 SOLs also identifies standards related to body systems, nutrition, physical health, disease prevention/health promotion, substance abuse prevention, safety/injury prevention, and violence prevention; each of these areas influence and are influenced by mental health wellness and social emotional health.