Last month, the State Board of Education (SBE) approved a new policy to help improve mental health services for public school students in North Carolina. Mental and behavioral wellness is directly linked to overall positive student achievement, school climate, high school graduation rates, and the prevention of risky behaviors, disciplinary incidents, and substance abuse.
Complete implementation of this policy is critical. Research shows that in North Carolina, nearly 1 in 5 students will experience a mental health disorder in any given year. Of those students, 75 percent — or nearly 227,000 students — will NOT receive treatment. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people age 10 to 24, and in North Carolina, the total number of youth suicides has doubled in recent years.
These disturbing statistics come from the School Mental Health Initiative (SMHI), a multi-disciplinary partnership of public educators, community-based mental health clinicians, lawyers, advocates, university faculty, and parents. Disability Rights NC was one of the participants. SMHI met regularly for more than two years, with a mission of developing recommendations for policy and/or legislative change to ensure that public school students in North Carolina have equitable access to a full continuum of high-quality and well-coordinated mental health services.
The group defines mental health services as services that:
- Promote healthy development of social, emotional, and/or behavioral functioning;
- Prevent problems with social, emotional, and/or behavioral functioning;
- Respond to students experiencing concerns or problems with social, emotional, and behavioral functioning; and
- Prevent and treat substance abuse.
See the article below for additional information…