CLARKSTON – Youth mental health is in a state – 45% of high school seniors reported feeling sad or hopeless in the past year, according to the statewide Healthy Youth Survey. If nearly half of youths grapple with feelings of depression, every youth is due some education to help them recognize and overcome those feelings.
Washington state schools and leaders are building a variety of supports to improve the school climate, strengthen student resiliency, and intervene with supports when youth need them most.
Through surveys and screenings, schools are discovering shortcomings and charting improvements to instill a spirit of optimism. Through Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) techniques, schools are instilling hope and helping students overcome trauma. Through Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) interventions, schools are discovering and responding to students who might benefit from counseling and individual attention. By investing in an improved staff-to-student ratio, the governor and legislature are surrounding students with more assistants, nurses, counselors, and psychiatrists to better support wellness in addition to education.
“Mental health is getting talked about. That’s probably why students are recognizing, ‘Maybe I’m not alone in this, maybe there’s something that can help me,’” said Staci Cornwell, youth mental health coordinator for the Mead School District.
From bus drivers to teachers to parents to legislators, every Washingtonian can play a critical role in supporting youth and improving their mental health.