By Jonathan George
Another tragedy, this time in Texas. The 30th school shooting in 2022. Now, the aftermath of secondary trauma floods our communities as debates and politics begin, focusing on guns.
While everyone is debating gun laws, there is a colossal mental health crisis plaguing our youth that deserves equal attention. Dr. Luis Rojas Marcos, former President and Chief Executive of the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation identified the following major problems students are dealing with today:
37% increase in teenage depression
1 in 5 children has mental health problems
200% increase in suicide among children between 10 and 14 years old
In the fall of 2020, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association joined together to declare a National State of Emergency in Children’s Mental Health.
The statistics are alarming. The consequences of the mental health crisis are serious. Suicide attempts, persistent sadness, hopelessness, and trauma are now the norm among students. All that results in behavior issues, bullying, and violence in classrooms across America. It should be noted that most school shooters had a prior history of being bullied.
In a reactive measure to combat the issues, funding and grants are established for school-based mental health services, studies are conducted, and strategies are discussed. Yet the crisis continues to grow. While striving for change we keep doing the same things over and over expecting a different result. What we need is a preventative program.
Meaningful intervention is needed immediately. Schools are where our youth spend most of their time, so this falls on educators. However, our educators lack the necessary tools to deal with the issues. Most are not trained therapists or counselors. Unprecedented numbers are overwhelmed and burnt out, resulting in teachers leaving schools in a massive exodus.
But there is a solution.
Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is an evidence-based program to nurture students in the classroom with the integration of social, emotional, and cognitive development. According to a meta-analysis of 213 rigorous studies of SEL in schools (Durlak et al., 2011), participating students demonstrated:
Decreased disruptive behaviors, noncompliance, aggression, delinquent acts, and disciplinary referrals
Reduced emotional distress: fewer reports of student depression, anxiety, stress, and social withdrawal
Improved achievement scores with an average of 11 percentile points higher than students who did not receive systematic SEL instruction.
Improved attitudes, motivation to learn, deeper commitment to school, time devoted to schoolwork, and classroom behavior
While SEL is an impactful and proven solution, 99% of schools report that they do not have sufficient funding for it. Social Emotional Learning programs are designed to address existing problems as well as prevent them before they take hold of young minds. It is imperative that we employ the solutions that will help our children combat these serious problems.
Politicians, school leaders, community leaders, and parents must work together to find funding and ensure that we do everything we can to address the mental health crisis. Our schools can only become safe places when our children are healthy and supported.
About the Author:
Jonathan George left his teaching career and then spent over 20 years developing personal brands for some of the biggest young superstars in Hollywood. His clients have over 150 million online followers. After seeing a mental health crisis caused by social media, he obtained a Master's Practitioner's License in Social Emotional Intelligence and founded Rock My Campus. Returning back to schools, he teamed up with 23-year education veteran and emotional behavior expert, Shylla Webb and made it their mission to combat the mental health pandemic as well as heal burnout in educators by providing solutions through preventative Social Emotional Learning.
Read more www.RockMyCampus.com
Jonathan George and Shylla Webb are available for interviews: