Mental Health in Schools

Where We Stand

NAMI believes that public and private elementary, middle and high schools should provide and/or facilitate the provision of appropriate mental health services to our nation’s children.   

Why We Care

One in five youth have a mental health condition, with half of mental health conditions developing by age 14. Yet, less than half of youth with mental health conditions received any kind of treatment in the past year. Undiagnosed, untreated, and inadequately treated mental illnesses significantly interfere with a student’s ability to learn, to grow, and to develop. Since children spend much of their productive time in educational settings, schools provide a unique opportunity to identify and treat mental health conditions by serving students where they already are.

How We Talk About It

  • Many mental health conditions first appear in youth and young adults, with 50% of all conditions developing by age 14 and 75% by age 24.
  • 1 in 5 youth have a mental health condition, but sadly fewer than half receive any mental health services.
  • The earlier a young person can access mental health care, the more effective it can be. Early treatment can help keep youth in school and on track to achieving their life goals.
  • But, far too often, there are long delays between when a young person first experiences symptoms and when they get help.
  • Fortunately, our schools can play an important role in identifying the early warning signs of an emerging mental health condition and in linking students with effective services and supports.
  • NAMI supports funding to allow schools to train faculty and staff on the early warning signs of mental health conditions and how to link students to services. 
  • And, NAMI believes that every school should also be able to provide school-based and/or school-linked mental health services. School-based mental health services bring trained community mental health professionals into schools, where school-linked mental health services link families to resources in the community.
  • Schools should also have the funding necessary to coordinate school-based mental health services with the community mental health system so children and young adults do not fall through the cracks.
  • Investing in children’s mental health improves the lives of children and families. When children get the right care at the right time, we can prevent negative outcomes like school failure, hospitalization—and even suicide. 

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