Editorial: Teens Don’t Believe Schools Can Respond to Mental Health Needs and Emergencies

Jenna Reiber, Copy Editor

Since students have been coming back to in-person schools, mental health has been more important for teens than ever before. According to a poll conducted by Navigate360, 53% of teens are more concerned with their social-emotional and physical safety than they were just six months ago. 

A survey was conducted to find out where students felt the least safe, whether that is home, school, a job, etc. School kept coming in as the environment where a teen felt the most unsafe. 54% of students felt that school is the least safe place for them to be, and only a small 37% of students were confident that their peers knew how to respond in an emergency.

An International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction report found higher stress and anxiety levels in teens due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, only 23% of students feel that their school is ready and capable to handle a mental health crisis. 

The impact of this pandemic has taken a huge toll on the mental and social-emotional health of young adults who are still in school. Covid-19 has caused many students to go to school virtually, which can also take a toll on mental health over time. 

Even parents are becoming concerned for their teens because of this pandemic. 78% of parents with a child under the age of 17 are concerned about the isolation and stress of Covid-19 that is happening to their child. 

36% of parents reported that they never talk to their child about mental health, and 62% of parents said that they do. 

Mental health has been a concern more than ever this year, and schools have to start accommodating the emotional needs of their students. 

Teens also feel concerned at school for not just their mental health, but their physical safety as well. According to the poll that was done by Navigate360, 62% of students’ parents felt that their children’s schools knew what to do in an emergency, while only 35% of young adults feel the same way. With the recent awakening of school shootings, these statistics show the lack of trust from students in their own schools’ ability to keep them physically safe every day. 

“With schools opening again and the tragic increase in violence across the country, we have a lot of work to do to relearn socialization skills, identify concerning behavior, and react to potential threats of harm in real-time,” said JP Guilbalt, Navigate360 CEO. 

Multiple questions in the survey that was conducted involve how the tragic increase in active shooters and tragedies affect the mental health of school students. 

To help start the process of bettering schools to make their students feel safe, we can work to build a level of safety in schools, where they feel confident and comfortable enough to reach their full potential. 

This can be done by implementing a behavioral threat assessment and other suicide prevention solutions. The behavioral threat assessment can guide students away from a path of violence and help them to better their mental health as well.  Additionally, you can contact your school board to voice your concerns and make this happen.  For Derry Township residents, the school board can be reached using the Community Correspondence Form on the district website.