How can we increase mental health awareness and accessibility for middle school students daily and impactfully?

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Emotional health is an integral part of overall health, as physical and mental health are intricately linked (1, 2). Sound youth mental health—which is more than the absence of disorders—includes effective coping skills and the ability to form positive relationships, to adapt in the face of challenges, and to function well at home, in school, and in life(kidsdata).” Throughout the process of my research, this quote stuck out to me the most and the foundation for why I chose this topic to begin with. Children need to learn the correct tools to be able to grow up understanding how to take care of their individual emotional healths, as well as be able to carry those tools into high school, where mental health becomes significantly more challenging on the student population. 


What You Need To Know:

So What? 

Problems related to mental illness are increasingly becoming the focal point of public concern over the safety and performance of schools, yet little is known about the availability and quality of school-based mental health services in the United States” (springer). Yes, little is known about school-based mental health options, as I found out trying to research this exact thing. After much digging, I feel like I am quite happy with my discoveries. First of all, the sad fact is that: “approximately 50% of US middle and high schools have any mental health counseling services available onsite and approximately 11% have mental health counseling, physical examinations, and substance abuse counseling available on-site” (springer). The availability for mental health access in these schools is lacking, I believe the first step would be tackling the problem on the middle school/ late elementary school level. By implementing “social-emotional learning” tactics, these students will be taught the most beneficial ways to be able to understand and cope with their mental health and emotional struggles on a level that they understand. “What I liked most about each one was that it supported social-emotional development while also reinforcing high expectations and goals by defining and measuring both the quality and degree of a student’s progress. When given clear expectations, students can improve their behavior and succeed.” Having clear expectation for what is expected of oneself can be both beneficial and anxiety-producing, and what is different about social-emotional learning from other teaching strategies is how they approach closing assignment: “In the reflection portion of the rubric, students are asked to reflect on what they found difficult or challenging that week, as well as what they could have done to help solve these problems. The students are also required to write down what they were successful at and why” (wgu). A simple action such as reflecting on what you had done well, and why you think so, can be so very empowering for young students heading into high school, and one of many tools social-emotional learning would teach them that they could then carry into high school. 

What Can I Do?

well, please feel free to take my google form survey below to help me find out more about different schools’ situations!

work cited 

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1UIkDQpBRcYf2ZtmX76l-2g-E2J6CIK-AZiNqRAEcXus/edit

I would love to hear from you! Please comment below and let me know what you thought about my topic as well and how I approached it, as well as any other comment or questions you may have!

11 Comments

11 comments

  1. Hey Magdalene!
    I really understand much more about the situation of children in school and the power of learning things in school and what that does to your awareness for things. I really liked your quote: “Children need to learn the correct tools to be able to grow up understanding how to take care of their individual emotional healths, as well as be able to carry those tools into high school, where mental health becomes significantly more challenging on the student population.” This was powerful and brought to light information I did not know. Great work!

    1. Hi Kate!
      I’m glad you think so 🙂 That quote also captured my attention because I felt like it really embodied the message that I was trying to portray

  2. Hi Maggie,
    Thank you for bringing a sometimes difficult topic to the forefront in this discussion. I really like your approach to beginning to discuss mental health early with children. That may eliminate any stigmas that may exist at older ages.

    I wonder how early negative thoughts and emotions come into children’s minds (like I’m not good enough or, worse, I’ll never be good enough) and I wonder if equipping homeroom teachers or advisors of young students with simple activities or even questions or prompts to use with students would be a viable first step in many cases.

    At minimum by sharing this perspective Maggie, you are helping to bring these issues into our everyday approaches, so thank you!

    1. Thank you so much, Mr. Lavallee! I really appreciated your help and guidance this semester as well 🙂

  3. Hi Maggie,
    I think that your topic is super important and needs to be talked about more. The education surrounding mental health, especially at a young age, is very low. I wonder at what point do kids start wondering about things about mental health and what amount of people have access to people that they can ask questions to.

  4. Hey Maggie,

    I really loved how you incorporated a visual in your presentation. I think visuals really help the audience get a better understanding of the topic. I really love how you are thinking far ahead and looking for solutions and trying to learn through different individuals by having a google form. I strongly agree with what you said about implementing “social-emotional learning” tactics as I feel that would be really beneficial for students especially middle schoolers who are at a kind of awkward-pubescent stage.

    Overall I feel like your project flowed really well and was very organized and put together. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. thank you so much! I really appreciated your help this semester as well 🙂

  5. Hi Maggie, great project! We really need to pay enough attention to this issue. Mental health education is extremely poor, especially at a young age. I think that if we start teaching young people early, we will not solely raise students’ awareness, however conjointly improve mental health state among them. Overall you did a great job! Thank you!!

  6. Hi Maggie,
    This is one of the most critical issues we face, as we think of the best ways to educate our students. I was told once that we really do not need mental health counselors. Ignoring that, we have added more each year, and it still feels like not enough. How we support young adults is one of our most important strategic issues moving forward. Thank you for giving this topic the attention it deserves.

  7. Hi Maggie!
    I really loved reading through your research because it’s a topic that I was actually interested in looking into myself because of the discussions we’ve had over the timespan of our course! Your visual infographic was an effective way of communicating the rates of depression within young students and highlights the issues that are so important to start paying attention to. I completely agree that teaching social-emotional learning techniques will benefit the students not only when they’re at an elementary or middle school age but when they’re at the high school or even college level age. Great work!

  8. Hey Maggie! I really loved your presentaion but esspesially loved the infographic. It helped me visualize the information well and understand it. I love this topic because when I was in middle school, there was no talk about mental health whatsoever. I feel as if this was easier to talk about it middle school, it would help a lot of kids in the long run.

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