The recent news of two junior high school girls plotting the demise of some of their classmates, while no less horrifying, is just one in an onslaught of stories involving children in the middle of a bonafide mental health crisis. No firmly grounded child would even think of such a dastardly mission, never mind recruit others to join in like some sordid Halloween gag. What we have in our public education system is a full-on, 5-alarm mental health epidemic. Even so, monitoring student mental health, while just barely a conversation even now, is non-existent. Why?
Teachers, parents and students alike have long lamented the endless standardized test regimen that has come upon our nation’s education system. In the spirit of No Child Left Behind, the testing thereof has proven to be labor intensive and marginally conclusive proof of anything concrete. Millions are spent on standardized testing every year. What is spent on student mental health in the average school system? You’ll be hard pressed to find an answer to that question if you put it in Google. Back in 2012, states spend almost $2Billion per year on standardized testing.
Monitoring Student Mental Health Is A Burning Matter Of Safety
If we have learned anything from the school violence in the last couple of years, hopefully we as a society have understood that student mental health is not only a problem but a fire being fanned by difficulties with adjusting to social constructs for some. Students with mental health issues are often ostracized, targeted by bullies, and just plain ignored by their peers. Add feelings of hopelessness the situation and you have a potential wildfire on your hands.
How does the education system fix a problem it was never equipped to deal with? The new frontier for school systems around the United States is providing student mental health interventions and services. For many states in America, having a psychology degree isn’t even a requirement for a school psychologist. Should we be looking to them to help with student mental health when not only may they not be trained psychologists but can be assigned in school districts where they are in a ratio of 1 to hundreds if not thousands of students? More needs to be done if we are going to not only get a handle on student mental health but actively and effectively monitor it.
When a worrisome situation arises with a student where do teachers and students go now? Once a notice is made, what happens after that? It is easy to see how fast dealing with a situation can be squelched by lack of protocol and or standardized ways of triaging it. Who is monitoring this information at the administration level anyway? How do we prevent student mental health situations from burning out of control when there isn’t any way to do it in the first place? Strategies need to be made, protocols need to be established and proper monitoring needs to be instituted - just like standardized testing.
How Will School Districts Effectively Keep Track Of Students Potentially In Crisis?
Until it is mandated, school districts astutely ahead of the curve will seek to get a handle on the crises that arise in one form or another. Some will informally construct ways of dealing with issues and instructing their staff on how to do it, others will issue policy to follow at the administration level. How is your school district dealing with student mental health crises now?
The next step is effectively keeping track of written information and helping your staff understand where to go when something needs to be reported and how to record this information. Without a place to report, a format to log and keep logging notes, information on a student in a potential or full blown mental health crisis, and a qualified team monitoring the processes and outcomes, what can really be done?
eCare Vault, designed to do just what is needed for tracking, collaborating, and monitoring those students who are in need of mental health intervention or services. Many of these students are also receiving mental health services outside of school. Wouldn’t it be beneficial if your school district was able to access information and collaborate directly with the mental health professionals already working with your student in crisis?
How much better would the outcome be if everyone working in your student’s best interest was involved from the beginning? If your district is grappling with the fiery state of student mental health in your schools, maybe it’s time to talk about what will help get a handle on it now.