Students in classrooms across the nation struggle with anxiety and thoughts of suicide, and with mental health issues on the rise, schools need better data to help students learn coping strategies.
A report from YouthTruth, which conducts student and stakeholder feedback surveys for school improvement, shows that 1 in 7 students have seriously contemplated suicide in the past 12 months. While 68 percent of students in that report say they have coping strategies to help them manage stress or emotional problems, they also say mental health programs and services, along with strong relationships with the adults in school, can help their emotional and mental health.
YouthTruth analyzed data from more than 70,000 students in grades 5-12. The data was gathered between 2012-2019 through anonymous YouthTruth surveys, administered in partnership with public schools in 18 states.
“Even the best educators are hard-pressed to know to what extent and in what ways students are struggling with their mental health” says Jen Wilka, executive director for YouthTruth. “While schools can’t bear this alone, they are a key piece of the puzzle of supporting students in today’s complex world, and as our data shows, the relationships and supports that schools provide really matter. When it comes to topics of emotional and mental health that can be hard to talk about, getting anonymous survey data about the school experience, student and staff relationships at school, and environmental supports is more important than ever. Schools have a crucial opportunity to hear directly from students about their experiences and intervene before it’s too late.”