September 14, 2022

Youth mental health among important back-to-school subjects; resources available

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With the return to school comes the prevalence of colds and germs being shared in enclosed spaces. And as kids return to school across the nation, it’s important for those around them to remember that their mental health is as important as their physical health.

Most people have read or seen stories on the youth mental health crisis plaguing the country. Due to an ongoing pandemic, lack of in-person social interactions, social upheaval and more, kids and teens are facing once-in-a-lifetime events that even adults aren’t sure how to handle. Adolescence is already a confusing time without the added fears concerning safety in schools, staying healthy, family financial security and loss of loved ones, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the rates of anxiety, depression, suicide and other mental health conditions are on the rise.

With their new Back-to-School Toolkit, Mental Health America (MHA) recognizes that youth are having “all the feels” as they enter the new school year.

The MHA toolkit resources look at the issues young people face that are having an impact on their mental health and offer tips on how to deal with them and the resulting emotions. The toolkit can also help parents and school personnel better understand the issues, such as the effects of social media on youth mental health and how to be supportive.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) also has information available specific to stress associated with back to school. The Fall 2022 Back to School Resources provide information for educators and parents, kids, teens and college students. Additionally, NAMI’s “Hope Starts With Us: Back to School Anxiety” podcast offers more information.

NPR’s article “Keep an eye on your student’s mental health this back-to-school season” is another helpful resource as students and caregivers navigate being back in the classrooms.

Other organizations also have resources in place specifically to assist youth, teens and their families, including these:

  • Minding Your Mind creates experiences that open minds and show people they are not alone when they are struggling. Its young adult speakers, who have successfully and productively coped with their mental health challenges, share their stories of hope, recovery and resilience. They use the power of storytelling to provide evidence-based education about mental health challenges in schools, communities and workplaces. Minding Your Mind encourages youth to seek help and ensures that those around them are effectively prepared to provide that help. Learn more at https://www.mindingyourmind.org.
  • Teen Talk App is a free, anonymous, safe space for teens to request support from trained peers and learn from others with similar experiences. Teens can freely speak to their peers about everyday issues and their overall mental health. Teen Advisors are trained to support their peers through a wide range of experiences, including anxiety, depression, relationships, family issues, school and more. Teen Advisors are supervised by licensed mental health professionals. Learn more at https://www.teentalkapp.com.
  • The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youth. Trained counselors are available 24/7 to youth who are in crisis, feeling suicidal or in need of a safe and judgment-free person to talk to. Call 866- 488-7386, text START to 678-678 or start an online chat. Learn more at https://www.thetrevorproject.org.

These resources are available due to the prevalence of mental health issues arising among youth. MHA has created a report that addresses the youth mental health crisis. Indicators of youth mental health and well-being point to a growing public health crisis that has only been worsened by COVID-19. Titled “Addressing the Youth Mental Health Crisis: The Urgent Need for More Education, Services and Supports,” MHA’s report is designed to guide advocacy at the state level and begin to create a framework for federal policy. The report aims to document the alarming trends in youth mental health and the disparities in access to care; address several innovative state legislative solutions to promote school-based mental health education, supports and services; and highlight the effect of these policies on advancing equity and the role of youth leadership in securing legislation.

Mental health screenings available via MHA

Free, confidential, anonymous screening tools are available via MHA at MHAScreening.org for youth and parents who are concerned about mental health. After the screening, results are provided along with tips for next steps and additional information.

Serious signs that someone is in crisis and needs help, such as thoughts or plans of hurting oneself or another person, should be addressed promptly. If someone thinks a child or teen is in immediate danger of taking suicidal action, they should call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988. Its trained crisis counselors can help them find local resources or suggest next steps.

ADDITIONAL MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES TO ASSIST FACULTY, STAFF, STUDENTS

To assist faculty and staff

Review the “Mental Health Resources” webpage for a variety of available resources for faculty and staff, which support the behavioral health pillar of the Healthy Boiler Program, and information on Purdue’s health plan coverage for mental health and substance abuse. 

To assist students

Faculty and staff who work with students or have a student at home can direct them to the resources below for behavioral health assistance. Note: United Healthcare Student Resources (UHCSR) — medical plan provider for students and graduate students — offers 292 unique mental health providers serving at various locations that are in-network with UHCSR within Tippecanoe County. The list is available here. Additionally, students have access to HealthiestYou, which provides virtual access to mental health care as part of UHCR’s plan. All services are free for students covered under the UHCSR insurance plan.   

Office of the Dean of Students

Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS)


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