Giving Compass' Take:

• John Auerbach and Benjamin F. Miller discuss research that identified four ways to help schools provide students with the mental health support they need to prevent suicide and other adverse outcomes. 

• How can funders help drive further research in this area? What partnerships can make these methods reality for students? 

• Learn more about the need to invest in youth mental health

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among children ages 10 to 14 and, as of 2016, more than 1 million adolescents ages 12 to 17 had a substance abuse disorder.

Plus, children who have adverse childhood experiences—stressful, traumatic events such as a parent’s drug or alcohol misuse, or death—are more likely to develop substance abuse disorders as adults.

Children spend about half the year in school, giving educators and other personnel a crucial role in promoting the health and well-being of young people. But, like so many community settings, educators need even more resources and training.

Of the 1 in 5 children who need mental health services, just 20 percent receive them. Fifty percent of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14.

The Trust for America’s Health and the Well Being Trust have called for a national strategy to improve resilience—with a focus on children and adolescents.

A recent policy paper highlighted four areas to consider as we think about a response to the crises of drugs, alcohol, and suicide.

  1. Partnerships: Simply creating a few new programs without integrating them with other supports will not bring about change.
  2. School climate: When students believe adults and peers at school care about them, they are more likely to avoid unhealthy behaviors such as drug and alcohol misuse.
  3. Identification: Schools are excellent environments for proactively screening for substance misuse and mental health risk factors.
  4. PD and additional support: Professional development can help educators learn best practices to identify and support students at risk for suicide or substance misuse.

Read the full article about preventing suicide by John Auerbach and Benjamin F. Miller at District Administration.