Addressing Student Mental Health is Urgent

There is a growing urgency in addressing student mental health across the nation. As educators, it is crucial to start prioritizing mental health and well-being in schools. In a recent EdWeb webinar focused on SEL and mental health for Tier II and Tier III intervention, a poll was conducted among an audience of primarily counselors and administrators that asked the question, “If you had to pick a symptom your district finds most urgent to address, which would it be?” The results showed that the most significant concern among districts is the rise in anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and self-harm among students.

5 Statistics every Superintendent Should Know

As the district leader, it is critical for superintendents to understand the urgency of this issue and take the necessary action to address and help resolve it. Below are five important statistics superintendents should know about the urgent student mental health crisis.

  • The percentage of high school students who experiences persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness was 37% in 2019 and increased to 42% in 2021. Unfortunately, the trend is moving in the wrong direction, which is of great concern. According to the latest CDC Report, students who are feeling persistent sadness and hopelessness are at higher risk of engaging in life-threatening behaviors.
  • One in six U.S. youth, aged 6-17, experience a mental health disorder each year. This means that roughly 17% of youth in the United States have a mental health disorder. These disorders can range from anxiety and depression to attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and eating disorders. The National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) states that only about half of youth with mental health conditions receive any treatment.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals aged 10-24 in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2019, suicide was responsible for 6,211 deaths in individuals aged 10-24. While the rates vary depending on race/ethnicity, age, and other factors, the sad reality is that these numbers have yet to go down among our youth.
  • Nearly 50% of students aged 14 and older with a mental health condition drop out of school. This statistic highlights the need for early intervention and support for students who may be struggling with their mental health.
  • 70% of youth in juvenile justice systems have a mental health condition. This statistic emphasizes the need for mental health support in schools and communities to prevent youth from entering the criminal justice system.


Why It Should Matter to You

Mental health conditions can impact academic performance. Students with mental health conditions may struggle with attendance, completing assignments, and engaging in classroom discussions. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, students with depression are more likely to have lower grade point averages and drop out of school than their peers without depression. Therefore, it is crucial to prioritize student mental health and well-being to address the urgent symptoms of rising anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, or self-harm in schools.

BASE Education offers evidence-based mental health and SEL curriculum to support students in developing the skills they need to thrive in school and beyond. By offerings these types of  programs for their students, schools can help prevent mental health crises and promote positive outcomes for all students. Furthermore, schools can implement policies and practices that support student mental health, such as creating a positive and inclusive school culture that promotes mental health and well-being through activities such as mindfulness exercises, restorative justice practices, and peer support programs. Additionally, schools can review and revise disciplinary policies to ensure that they do not disproportionately impact students with mental health conditions.

In conclusion, student mental health is an urgent issue that educators and district leaders must prioritize—not only for students’ academic success but for their overall health and happiness. Superintendents can advocate for policy changes at the district and state levels that prioritize student mental health and allocate resources to support it. Schools can work together with educators, families, and community members to create a culture of support and well-being for all students. Schools can also implement evidence-based mental health and SEL programs as well as provide students access to mental health services and resources. This can include hiring school counselors or mental health professionals, partnering with community mental health organizations, and educating staff and families about the importance of mental health and how to support students who may be struggling.


For more information on how you can implement evidenced-based mental health and SEL curriculum in your district, contact us today.