In the mid-1990s, the first Global Burden of Disease study noted that of the top ten causes of disability worldwide, five were mental illnesses. Mental health researchers had little to offer at the time in terms of proven inexpensive treatments. But researchers since then have demonstrated that diseases such as depression and substance abuse can often be accurately identified and treated by community health workers with talk therapy.
Nationwide, public school counselors are overworked and under-resourced. The average student-to-school-counselor ratio is 482-to-1—nearly double the 250-to-1 ratio recommended by the American School Counselor Association.
It is estimated that 13% to 20% of children living in the United States has experienced a mental health disorder in the last year. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, one in five adolescents between 13 and 18 years old has or will have a serious mental illness, and suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth aged 10 to 24.
A nationwide shortage of school psychologists and counselors disproportionately affects these students as well, as they often attend more crowded, under-resourced schools, though they have the greatest need.
Some districts and universities are working to train staff to identify and, in some cases, assist students with mental illness on campus. Teachers21, a nonprofit subsidiary of William James College, a graduate college of psychology in Newton, Massachusetts, is working with classroom, school and district leaders and other school staff to build mental health treatment into their pedagogy. Trauma-informed teaching has become a popular concept, feeding into the idea of restorative justice
Most of these efforts — and a focus on social-emotional learning in general — are concentrated in elementary schools, and by the time a student reaches middle school, the emphasis begins to fizzle out. And by the time a student gets onto a college campus, efforts are all but non-existent, said Williams James President Nicholas Covino, who is a practicing psychologist.
Report calls for national strategy to help schools prevent suicide, substance abuse
The Trust for America’s Health and the Well Being Trust created a joint policy paper that calls for a national strategy to improve childhood resilience and school responses to crises involving suicide, drugs and alcohol, District Administration reports.
The issue is relevant to schools, where students spend about half their year, because suicide is now the third leading cause of death in children ages 10 to 14, and more than 1 million middle school and high school age students have a substance abuse disorder, the authors note.
The policy paper details four main areas of concern that need to be addressed on the school level: the need to partner with community-based organizations, such as Communities that Care; the need to improve school climate through such programs as Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS); the need for proactive screening for mental health risk factors and potential substance abuse; and increased staffing of mental health workers and training of teachers.
THURSDAY, MARCH 15, 2018 | 1:00 PM CENTRAL | 60 MINUTES
Instant communication with one another (and the world) has tremendous benefits. At the same time, it has serious drawbacks that tend to offset those advantages. The evidence is mounting that students’ overreliance on their cherished devices is interfering with their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, ultimately impacting their emotional health, mental health, and academic performance.
How can your institution assist students in the digitally-obsessed information age?
Register today for the Magna Online Seminar, Students and Social Media: How Much is Too Much?, presented by Aaron Hughey, EdD. You’ll explore ways to develop and implement a blueprint for effectively assisting students who are experiencing emotional and mental challenges due to their overindulgence in social media.
Through the evidence-based best practices and insights gleaned through this seminar, you’ll be able to respond more effectively to the needs of students who are experiencing emotional and mental health challenges due to their overinvolvement with social media.
Upon completion of this seminar, you’ll be able to:
Understand how today’s students are qualitatively different from their predecessors 15-20 years ago
Articulate why technology has both benefits and challenges
Describe the prevalence of emotional and mental issues among today’s college students
Describe the emerging relationship between overinvolvement with social media and emotional issues
Educate students, faculty, staff, and student affairs professionals regarding social media and how overinvolvement can precipitate stress, anxiety, depression, and even suicide and violence
Recognize basic symptomology and warning signs associated with overinvolvement with social media, as well as response techniques
Characteristics of today’s college students and the similarities/differences from previous generations
How technology has affected the way students learn
Emotional and mental issues among today’s college student population
The increase in addiction disorders in today’s college students
Overinvolvement with social media and emotional and mental health issues
Social media and stress, anxiety, depression, violence, and suicide
Emotional states and their connection to social media
Symptomology and warning signs
This seminar is designed for anyone at any institution who is responsible for the mental and emotional well-being of college students, especially faculty, administrators, and staff of departments that provide direct services to students, including college counseling centers, student health centers, career and academic advising services, housing and residence hall professionals and paraprofessionals, student activities and organizations, academic support services, and programs and services for at-risk students.
One of the founders of Facebook, Sean Parker, explains that these social media devices exploit the vulnerability of the human essence. The dopamine that is social media only creates a narcissistic, self-validating loops that consume valuable time and conscious attention. “Liking”, “commenting”, and “sharing” (which are virtually useless in reality) causes us to run around an endless cycle of insignificant information documentation in hopes of acknowledgment, which later on propels us to create more of the same.
Social media platform owners and creators are aware of this weakness in human psychology, and are taking advantage of it. Parker is just one of the many individuals who regret having a hand in creating these life-stagnating technologies. The mental health of the global population is deteriorating and is mostly due to anxieties produced by social media.
Anxiety can present as fear, restlessness, an inability to focus at work or school, finding it hard to fall or stay asleep at night, or getting easily irritated. In social situations, it can make it hard to talk to others; you might feel like you’re constantly being judged, or have symptoms such as stuttering, sweating, blushing or an upset stomach.
Research shows that if it’s left untreated, anxiety can lead to depression, early death and suicide. And while it can indeed lead to such serious health consequences, the medication that is prescribed to treat anxiety doesn’t often work in the long-term. Symptoms often return and you’re back where you started.
People often want to do something “perfectly” or to wait for the “perfect time” before starting. But this can lead to procrastination, long delays or even prevent us from doing it at all. And that causes stress – and anxiety.
Are you particularly critical of yourself and the blunders you make? people with anxiety often do this to themselves so frequently that they don’t even realize it anymore. They’re just not kind to themselves.
Another effective strategy is to “wait to worry”. If something went wrong and you feel compelled to worry (because you think you screwed up), don’t do this immediately. Instead, postpone your worry – set aside 10 minutes each day during which you can worry about anything.
Declining Student Resilience: A Serious Problem for Colleges
Faculty at the meetings noted that students’ emotional fragility has become a serious problem when in comes to grading. Some said they had grown afraid to give low grades for poor performance, because of the subsequent emotional crises they would have to deal with in their offices.
the Chronicle of Higher Education recently ran an article by Robin Wilson entitled, “An Epidemic of Anguish: Overwhelmed by Demand for Mental-Health Care, Colleges Face Conflicts in Choosing How to Respond” (Aug. 31, 2015).