Summer is almost over the moment it begins, so for school administrators it’s never too early to get ready for back-to-school.
As school systems all over the country prepare for students to return to the classroom, it’s more important than ever to make sure everyone is ready for the mental health needs of
Your frontline are the classroom teachers and paraprofessionals. They have the most contact with students and the least amount of flexible time. It’s critical to keep them at peak performance by ensuring their mental health needs are met, and that they have accurate information to pass on to students and families.
- Do they know who the experts are on campus? If your teachers and staff need to attend to their own mental health needs, do they have resources on campus and do they know what those resources are?
- Do staff have a place to go?
- Do they know how to refer students to support?
- Is there any available or required training around mental health support or policies?
Similar to teachers, your site administrators are often in the trenches. Moreover, they set the tone at each school site and reflect district priorities to other stakeholders.
- Do they understand the district’s priorities around mental health for all stakeholders?
- Do they know relevant policy? There are federal regulations, but likely state regulations and district policies that govern mental health support and resources as well.
- Do they have a crisis communication plan ready to go for mental health emergencies?
Don’t forget your parents. One of your key responsibilities is to instill trust in parents for the systems you oversee. Parents need to feel secure that their children’s wellbeing is assured.
- Does the school have a parent resource?
- Are there information resources available electronically?
- Do you have a communication plan to inform parents of resources for them and their kids?
Finally, it is the main goal of the school system to deliver effective instruction to students and prepare them for a life after their K-12 experience. Mental health is an essential part of overall health and well-being. Providing support for students will make everything easier.
- Do students have a place to go if they are feeling unwell, and do they know about it?
- Is there a peer support group available?
- Do they know how to identify a trusted adult?
- Have you effectively dismantled the stigma associated with talking about mental health needs?
Use this checklist to determine your priorities and find the gaps. The importance of mental health will continue to increase and now is the time to lead.