These days we’ve all been seeing the news on bullying and its unfortunate, tragic consequences. Those cases not only remind us of how important it is for schools to take strong actions against bullying, but also that it is essential that all of the mental health needs and concerns of students be taken into consideration.
On October 10, 2010 the whole world will be observing World Mental Health Day. This event provides a great opportunity for schools to increase awareness of mental disorders and open up a dialogue on what needs to be done to prevent and treat those disorders.
According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), almost one in five young people have one or more mental, emotional, and behavioral (MEB) disorders at any given time. The IOM states that many MEB disorders have life-long effects that include high psychosocial and economic costs, not only for the young people, but also for their families, schools, and communities. Such disorders also interfere with young people’s ability to accomplish age and culturally appropriate developmental tasks, such as establishing healthy interpersonal relationships, succeeding in school, and making their way into the workforce.
A recent school-based survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, found, for instance, that during the 12 months before the survey, 26.1 percent of high school students nationwide had felt so sad or hopeless almost every day for two or more weeks in a row that they stopped doing some usual activities.
Given these data and the recent news, it imperative that individuals, communities, and schools help tackle the mental health needs of students. And establishing effective bullying prevention policies and program is a good start. NSBA has several resources to help inform such policies and programs, including a cyber bullying prevention package, a school law webpage, and a School Health Programs webpage, which contains useful bullying links and other useful resources such as a “Coordinated School Health 101″ packet. So check them out!