Addressing the Youth Mental Health Crisis through Emotional Well-Being Supports in Schools

Now, more than ever, schools serve a critical role in supporting chronic disease prevention and health promotion, as our nation is in the midst of a mental health crisis. According to 2021 Youth Risk Behavior Survey results, 42% percent of high school students reported struggling with persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, and 30% reported overall poor mental health.

To address this challenge, NACDD’s School Health program has partnered with CDC’s National Initiative to Advance Health Equity in K-12 Education by Preventing Chronic Disease and Promoting Healthy Behaviors. NACDD is currently working with State Education Agencies, their respective State Health Departments, and Local Education Agencies (LEA) to advance health equity in schools by developing, implementing, and evaluating evidence-based policies, practices, and programs focused on the emotional well-being of students and staff. During its first year, NACDD worked with four states – Washington, Nebraska, Missouri, and Delaware – and six LEAs within those states to assess emotional well-being supports and create an action plan to address gaps. Collectively, these LEAs have focused action plan priorities on increasing their understanding of student and staff needs, resource mapping of community partners and existing programs, providing professional development for school staff related to social-emotional learning and staff well-being, and improving the use of data to drive decision-making related to emotional well-being and mental health policies, programs and practices.

NACDD is onboarding an additional two to four states and five to eight LEAs to participate in the 2023-24 school year. Learn more about NACDD School Health or reach out to Heidi Milby to learn how your state can become involved.

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