Middle School Students Are Hurting More Than Ever

  • Tier 1 universal screening tools and administration timeframes, with accompanying protocols, should be adopted across all grade levels.
  • Districts that offer Tier 2 and Tier 3 services onsite might consider expanding these services to the middle school level if not already offered.
  • ALL personnel who have student contact should be included in training about suicide prevention. This includes bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians, etc., since students may not necessarily approach a teacher about their distress but may confide in another trusted adult.
  • Parent training sessions can be offered to raise mental health and suicide prevention awareness.
  • All staff and parent training sessions must emphasize the need to be clear and direct with students and not shy away from hard questions. There is no evidence to support the myth that asking direct questions about suicide or self-harm will put the idea in a child’s head. Experts agree that it is important to be open and direct about these difficult issues while avoiding blame and expressing compassion. Students are often desperate to be heard and yet can find it hard to open such a difficult conversation with a parent or other adult.
  • Staff trauma and burnout must be recognized and addressed. Staff members’ stress can impair their ability to stay vigilant about student distress and to maintain a trauma-attuned stance.
  • Explore the availability of “teen tip lines” in your community that allow other students to report concerns about a peer.
  • Install and utilize software to analyze student internet searches to detect worrisome patterns.

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Effective School Solutions

Effective School Solutions

Reinventing K-12 Mental Health Care. Effective School Solution partners with school districts to help develop K-12 whole-school mental health programs.