According to a survey by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction in December 2022, students report an increased rate of mental health challenges. Over 50% say that they are experiencing stress while over 33% say they feel more anxious than they did previously. Students facing food insecurities, females, students of color, students not identifying as white, and those with learning or health challenges report facing the most challenges. Over 50% of students who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual self-report that they have contemplated suicide this year.
Challenges to Student Mental Health According to the U.S. Department of Education
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction will receive a share of more than $1.5 billion to implement stronger mental health programs in the state. The money is available to each state from the United States Department of Education as part of the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund.
The “Supporting Child and Student Social, Emotional, Behavior and Mental Health Needs” document created by the U.S. Department of Education identifies seven challenges to student mental health that need addressing:
1. Rising Disparities Between Student Groups
Groups, such as those with food insecurities, minorities and people from different cultures, must have the same access to mental health providers.
2. Perceived Barriers to Receiving Services
People of different cultures and traditions have more difficulty accessing services even when available. Therefore, it is everybody’s job to eliminate those barriers through great educational efforts.
3. Ineffective Implementation of Practices
According to the report, schools must consider what they prioritize during the student’s day. Therefore, staff may need to eliminate some programs while implementing more effective options.
4. Fragmented Delivery Systems
Along with implementing strong mental health programs, the report calls for identifying assets in the greater community that students can use to strengthen their well-being.
5. Policy and Funding Gaps
Policies and funding must be improved so that all students get the mental healthcare possible, especially those in the special needs community. Evidence-based programs providing excellent outcomes must get the most support.
6. Gaps in Professional Development and Support
Often other professionals working in schools need more mental health knowledge. Their knowledge base needs to be improved so that all professionals work together to strengthen students’ mental health.
7. Easy-to-access Quantified Data
Many professionals working with students need help accessing recent research-based mental health studies. Studies producing data that professionals can rely on must receive funding.
We look for changes coming to a Wisconsin school near you to improve student mental health.
Looking for help with your child? We offer child & adolescent therapy and psychiatry services at our clinics located throughout SE Wisconsin.