Mental Health In Schools
The start of many mental health conditions most often occurs in adolescence. Half of individuals living with mental illness experience onset by the age of 14. This number jumps to 75% by the age of 24.
One in five youth live with a mental health condition, but less than half of these individuals receive needed services. Undiagnosed, untreated or inadequately treated mental health conditions can affect a student’s ability to learn, grow and develop.
Schools provide a unique opportunity to identify and treat mental health conditions by serving students where they already are. School personnel play an important role in identifying the early warning signs of an emerging mental health condition and in linking students with effective services and supports.
Where NAMI Stands
NAMI advocates for the services and supports that schools need to provide school-based mental health services. These programs bring trained community mental health professionals into schools to provide mental health care or to link families to resources in the community. They provide access to services and supports and help reduce the confusion and isolation experienced by youth with mental health conditions and their families.
We also understand that schools are stretched very thin. We support increased funding to train school faculty and staff on the early warning signs of mental health conditions and how to link students to services. Funding would also allow school-based mental health professionals to coordinate services and supports between schools and the community mental health system.
What NAMI Is Doing
Supporting Federal And State Legislation
NAMI supports the Mental Health in Schools Act (H.R. 1211/S. 1588). This bill provides federal funding to train school staff on mental health related issues, to establish comprehensive school-based mental health services and to create links between schools and the community mental health system.
NAMI calls on states to pass legislation that would require school faculty and staff to be trained in the early warning signs of mental illness, provide funding and support for training and link community mental health services to schools.
Training School Personnel
NAMI has developed training programs that address child and youth mental health. The NAMI Parents & Teachers as Allies program is an in-service training program for school personnel.
Presentations for Students
Breaking the Silence is a nationwide educational program for upper elementary, middle school, and high school classrooms. Educational packets with lessons, stories, games, and posters, put a human face on mental illness and confront the myths that reinforce the silence. BTS is committed to educating all students about mental illness; combating stigma, teaching the warning signs, encouraging open discussion, and promoting help seeking behavior. Just one lesson on mental illness could make all the difference in the lives of young people whose lives have been thrown tragically off course by no fault brain disorders. “Given the ease of administration of this program, BTS is a very promising approach to improving the way children perceive and respond to mental illnesses,” Evaluation of a middle school mental health education program, Executive Summary, National Institute of Mental Health funded evaluation.
NAMI Ending the Silence provides students with information on mental health conditions and how to ask for help if they see the signs in themselves or a friend. Through the free classroom presentation, students get to see the reality of living with a mental health condition.