A new survey highlights the most pressing crisis communication challenges and mental health concerns heading into the 2022-2023 school year

Mental health tops education leaders’ post-pandemic priorities

A new survey highlights the most pressing crisis communication challenges and mental health concerns heading into the 2022-2023 school year

One area of concern that grew dramatically this year was the potential for future violent situations on campuses. More than half of respondents (55%) are more concerned about active assailants and violence on campus than they were before the pandemic. Social media is also complicating matters, as many respondents are following how recent waves of threats on TikTok and similar platforms are affecting schools. Nearly 80% of respondents acknowledged that these occurrences have contributed to their concern for campus safety.

Unsurprisingly, investing more in mental health resources (43%) emerged as the top intervention for next year – an 8% increase as compared to last year’s report. Currently, only half (50%) of schools believe they have adequate mental health resources to support students.

While these threats remain top of mind, many K-12 respondents acknowledged that they struggled to communicate effectively with all key parties. These challenges include issues reaching and notifying students and/or parents/guardians (26%) and issues reaching and notifying staff (23%).

Higher Education

More so than K-12 schools, institutions of higher education still list COVID-19-related safety measures as the top concern for next year (71%), followed by student mental health (59%) and faculty/staff mental health (44%). Additionally, concerns over crime increased by 20% year-over-year, and concerns over active assailants increased by 15%, both of which are likely related to the anticipated uptick in mental health needs next year.

Nearly half of survey takers (46%) are more concerned about active assailants and violent acts than they were prior to the beginning of the pandemic. As with K-12 schools, social media again increased anxiety about this kind of violence on campus amongst respondents. Threats on social media platforms have contributed meaningfully to how survey respondents (69%) think about campus safety.

To address leading safety concerns, higher education institutions are investing further in COVID-19-related safety resources (45%) and mental health resources (39%). They are also providing greater access to health and wellness services (38%) while ramping down certain activities, such as daily health checks for students.

Respondents in higher education experienced fewer crisis communication challenges than their K-12 counterparts. However, 16% still have a hard time reaching staff, and 15% struggle to reach students, parents and/or guardians amid crises.

“It’s already become obvious that the pandemic will have a lasting impact on the health and well-being of students and staff at every level, and we need to prepare for the further implications and unrealized effects two years of isolation may have on these communities,” said Terri Mock, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer, Rave Mobile Safety. “By having clear communication and open channels for reporting concerns, both K-12 schools and higher education institutions can make sure that their campuses are adequately protected and informed as we navigate into a post-pandemic world.”

Laura Ascione

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