high performing school districts regarding mental health , wellness and best practices for educational leaders .
The California Healthy Kids Survey was the catalyst for this research . From the most recent survey in the state of California , data was collected from 13,859 11th grade students in more than 40 school districts . The results of this survey indicated that the 11th grade state average for students that have seriously considered suicide in the prior 12 months is 17.8percent ( 2013-2015 ; Austin , Polik , Hanson , & Zheng , 2016 ). Another important statistic from the California Healthy Kids Survey showed that 33.8percent of 11th grade students in California reported experiencing chronic feelings of hopelessness and sadness . Given these statistics , it is clear the youth in California are being affected by various social emotional concerns , which in turn can influence their academic achievement in school .
Research shows these mental health issues are impacting student learning as displayed in attendance patterns , focus issues , withdrawal from extracurricular activities , and limited classroom engagement , thereby resulting in reduced academic achievement . This is pertinent to the work of educators on school campuses as a survey conducted by the Jason Foundation showed that students stated that a teacher or counselor was the number one person to whom they would turn for helping a suicidal friend ( O β Donnell , n . d .). Thus , it is imperative that schools are prepared to address the mental health and wellness of their students .
Purpose of the Study
It is critical to implement programs in schools that help students develop self-efficacy , coping strategies , and mental health and wellness literacy .
At the beginning of the 2017 school year , Assembly Bill 2246 took full effect , requiring schools to address mental health , specifically suicide prevention , in grades 7-12 in California schools . A policy in each school district must be developed in consultation with school and community stakeholders , school-employed mental health professionals , and suicide prevention experts to address procedures relating to suicide prevention , intervention and postvention ( O β Donnell , n . d .). More and more frequently , students with mental health issues are requesting help from support services in their educational setting . These problems have reached the point that student mental health is considered one of the top five critical issues on high school and college campuses nationwide . The JED Foundation ( 2015 ) reported that , based on reports from first year college freshman , emotional preparedness is critical for college success , and thus must be integrated into the work of the high school communities in preparing their students for post-secondary education .
While the same mental health concerns of anxiety , depression , and suicidal ideation are present among students in low performing schools , the risk factors are significantly different within high-performing schools , including high levels of perfectionism , intense pressure to perform , and lack of parental connectedness . Our research showed that mental health issues ( i . e ., suicidal ideation , hopelessness / sadness , and alcohol and drug use ) in high school students are significant within high-performing schools districts in California . There was clear connection between the influence of mental health and student achievement , showing it is critical for school leaders to understand the importance of focusing on student wellness to support school wide achievement . Finally , and most importantly , we were able to investigate best practices in the field of education , focusing on mental health and wellness programs in high-performing school districts that are effectively addressing prevention , intervention , and postvention within their school district .
Results and Findings
We conducted a mixed-methods study which included surveying 56 high school principals , assistant principals and counselors about student mental health and wellness in their respective school districts . Ten current California superintendents were interviewed as well . Survey results and superintendents β interviews provided a number of strategies their school / district utilize to support student mental health and wellness . More specifically , the findings highlighted best practices regarding student mental health and wellness in relationship to the themes of professional development , staffing , budget and programs / services .
Manifestation of mental health issues within high-performing school districts was the starting place for study . Common themes from both survey data and interview responses emerged regarding the high level of concerns surrounding the issues of stress , depression , and anxiety . There were reported increased levels of frequency regarding the impact on students across all school districts . Both school site personnel and superintendents reported that high expectations ,
September | October 2018 17
high performing school districts regarding
mental health, wellness and best practices
for educational leaders.
The California Healthy Kids Survey was
the catalyst for this research. From the most
recent survey in the state of California, data
was collected from 13,859 11th grade stu-
dents in more than 40 school districts. The
results of this survey indicated that the 11th
grade state average for students that have
seriously considered suicide in the prior 12
months is 17.8percent (2013-2015; Austin,
Polik, Hanson, & Zheng, 2016). Another
important statistic from the California
Healthy Kids Survey showed that 33.8per-
cent of 11th grade students in California
reported experiencing chronic feelings of
hopelessness and sadness. Given these sta-
tistics, it is ± ΘΡ‘ε½ΥΡ ₯Έ
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