Mental health crises can be incredibly difficult to confront, especially when they occur in an educational setting. It’s important for educators, school administrators, and parents alike to understand what a mental health crisis looks like in a school and the impact it has on students at the individual, school, and community levels. Let’s take a closer look at this issue.
What is a Mental Health Crisis at School?
Mental health crises can occur in a school setting at any time. It can appear to arise without warning or be triggered by an unexpected event such as the death of a student or staff member, a student bringing a weapon to school, or even world events. These unexpected traumatic events can cause one or more students to become deregulated and require schools to provide additional resources and supports.
When a student is facing a mental health crisis, it can have devastating effects on their physical and mental well-being.1 Symptoms of a student’s mental health crisis can vary depending on the individual situation but may include feelings of hopelessness or depression, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, behavioral changes such as aggression or withdrawal from activities they usually enjoy, and other signs that something is wrong. It can also look like the impulse to harm themselves or others.
Self-harm is one of the most common signs a student is in crisis.2 It’s vital for educators and parents to stay alert for these signs so that help can be provided as soon as possible.
A mental health crisis in one student can quickly become an issue for the entire school if it’s not addressed quickly and efficiently. For example, if one student’s anxiety levels increase due to fear of taking tests or attending classes, it could cause disruption throughout the entire class. Additionally, other students may develop similar anxious feelings due to watching their classmate struggle with test anxiety or any other form of distress.
It’s important for teachers and school staff to be aware of how one student’s mental health issues affect others in the classroom so that appropriate interventions can be put into place.
An individual student’s mental health crisis can have widespread ripple effects. The impact of one student’s mental illness on academic outcomes, finances, family relationships, and communities should not be underestimated. Supporting them through times when they are experiencing mental health issues will require effort from invested adults in all areas of their lives.
Having adequate resources available to help students through mental health issues is essential in preventing potential future crises within a community.
Schools as a Pathway to Care
It is vital that schools develop an understanding of what constitutes a mental health crisis on campus and provide an effective crisis response plan. Defining a plan at the individual level through properly supported teachers and staff, at the school level through administrators who provide mental health programs to their schools, and at the community level via a pathway to local care, ensures that all students receive proper support during times of distress while also protecting those around them from potential harm.
Implementing these measures can create an environment where everyone feels supported when facing difficult times. This type of proactive approach will lead us toward better outcomes for our children now and in the years ahead.
If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat 988lifeline.org. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website for more information.
Ready to learn more about the timely mental health screenings, teletherapy, and crisis supports that serve as the foundation for SchoolMed: Mental Health? Click here to schedule time with our experts to see how Goodside Health’s solution can increase health and safety programming on your campuses today.
About Goodside Health
Goodside Health is advancing the delivery of pediatric care by partnering with communities to provide access to telehealth, mental health, and well-care services at school, at home, and in the clinic. Relentless advocates for expanding access to care and promoting health equity, Goodside Health leverages a Whole-Child Approach to care and lives our mission of closing gaps in children’s healthcare through innovation and execution. To learn more about Goodside Health, please visit www.goodsidehealth.com.