Schooled in mental health – Wisconsin’s new plan to raise mentally healthy children
The mental health of adults traces its origins to childhood habits, treatment and other aspects of upbringing. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction finds good mental health habits can also begin in structured education. Keeping this inclination in mind, the Wisconsin School Mental Health Project began in August of 2015.
The five-year project will launch across 27 school districts. School-community teams will form to create policies, programs and practices aimed at helping mentally ill children by integrating a sense of empathy, education and assistance into disciplinary measures if these kids act out.
This program comes at a time of great need as the Department of Public Instruction finds one in five children in Wisconsin experience a mental health problem some time in their early years, impairing healthy functioning in school and home life. Even more alarming is Wisconsin’s high youth suicide rate, which exceeds the national average by an estimated 30 percent.
“We need more adults who recognize the signs of youth who are having trouble and know how to approach the student and their family so appropriate services can be accessed to help,” said Wisconsin Superintendent Tony Evers.
Evers finds the number of mentally ill children falling through the cracks unacceptable and providing education on mental issues could close those gaps.
Madeline Vann, M.P.H, writing for Everyday Health, cites numerous possible symptoms of children experiencing mental health problems through the different stages of life.
Very quick changes in overall personality and performance in school or home can indicate a major problem. Still mentally and physically developing, children require help learning ways to cope with stressful scenarios.
The teen years present a different kind of challenge, Vann says. Puberty can change behavior in young people, making it easy for parents to dismiss negative behaviors as part of growing up. Destruction of property, complete withdrawal from every support system and consistently threatening to leave or hurt someone are all unusual for well-adjusted youths and should require mental health attention. Otherwise, great harm could come to the youth, especially if left untreated into adulthood.
Sovereign Health Group is also concerned about mental health in youths. Reaching out early is essential for preventing worse problems in adulthood. Even then, intervention is possible. Start on the path of recovery by calling us at any time.
Written by Nicholas Ruiz, Sovereign Health Group writer