This article is written by Gary Pettengell and appears in Campus Safety. You can read the full article here.
The 2022-2023 school year was brutal for many students and school communities. After consecutive pandemic years, social disruption, economic and ecological upheaval, and the anticipated angst of adolescence coalesced to create historically bad mental health outcomes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half of high school students report feeling “persistently sad or hopeless.”
This has far-reaching and incredibly devastating consequences.
Research consistently indicates that a student’s mental and emotional wellness directly impacts their academic achievements, behavior, and social interactions. A student battling anxiety, depression, or chronic stress is more likely to face academic challenges, have attendance issues, and might even engage in risky or disruptive behaviors. In other words, student mental health and school safety are inextricably linked, and the new school year presents an opportunity to address both with solutions that maximize impact and promote holistic student wellness.
Here are three ways schools can achieve that as they begin this new school year.
1. Anticipate Changes
New years don’t always bring fresh starts, and schools should anticipate that many of last year’s challenges will continue this year even as new problems inevitably emerge. That’s why school decision-makers, social workers, guidance departments, teachers, and other stakeholders should start the year with their eyes wide open, preparing resources ahead of time to ensure they can meet students’ evolving needs…