You can make a difference! Ask legislators to ensure kids have access to mental health professionals in schools.
School mental health professionals and the child mental health crisis
2023 North Carolina Child Health Report Card. Special focus on child mental health
Children’s mental health is connected to the health of families and community. School mental health professionals work in partnership with parents and health care providers to surround children with the support they need.
Mental health care is an important component of good health care. It’s important that children and their families have access to qualified professionals when they need them.
North Carolina’s youth and children are in crisis, with suicide now the leading cause of death among youth ages 10-14 in our state. One in five North Carolina high school students seriously considering attempting suicide in 2021, up from 16% in 2017. One in ten reported actually making an attempt. In 2020, an unprecedented 67 children (ages 0-18) died by suicide in North Carolina.
More than one in 10 children ages 3 to 17 in North Carolina had a diagnosis of depression or anxiety in 2020 – an increase of 49% since 2016. These numbers are a wake-up call for adults to make sure we put the resources in place to meet our kids’ health needs – and that includes mental health.
Long before COVID and school closures, we saw alarming trends in measures of young people’s mental health. For instance, the number of North Carolina high schoolers who said they felt good about themselves fell from 80% in 2011 to 60% in 2019 (the year before the pandemic) and fell again to 49% in 2021.
The American Academy of Pediatrics declared a “National Emergency in Child and Adolescent Mental Health” in October 2021.
School is one of the most important places where we can support children’s mental health. We need to meet kids where they are – and they are at school every day. That means putting more funding into school nurses, counselors, and social workers and other trained adults who know how to help kids in crisis and can work alongside parents to provide support.
The state legislature made a great start by passing youth suicide prevention training and protocols for schools in 2020 and investing in school psychologists in the last budget. Now we need to continue building on these investments to put the staffing in place to meet kids’ needs.