In response to a national mental health crisis, the WNY School Mental Health Task Force outlines policy and practice priorities to strengthen mental health services in schools.
Child and adolescent mental health is a national emergency (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2021). The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated already increasing rates of depression, anxiety, loneliness and suicidal ideation (Naff et al., 2022). Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for youth aged 10-18. The youth mental health crisis is not limited to significant mental illness alone. For example, in 2021, 4 out of 10 high school students reported “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2021).
The effects of this crisis vary across racial subgroups of children and youth. White and Native youth have the highest rates of suicide among all youth, yet Black youth suicide rates increased faster than any other racial group in the past decade (CDC, 2020, Ramchand et al., 2021). Additionally, Asian American youths’ mental health needs are largely unmet and they have lower engagement in mental health services than their white peers (Li et al., 2010; Spencer et al., 2010).
The Western New York (WNY) School Mental Health Task Force convened in 2022 to identify priorities for enhancing school mental health services for children and youth.
American Academy of Pediatrics. (2021). AAP-AACAP-CHA declaration of a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health. https://www.aap.org/en/advocacy/child-and-adolescent-healthy-mental-development/aap-aacap-cha-declaration-of-a-national-emergency-in-child-and-adolescent-mental-health/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Youth risk behavior survey: Data summary and trends report, 2009-2019. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/data/yrbs/pdf/YRBSDataSummaryTrendsReport2019-508.pdf
Li, H., & Seidman, L. (2010). Engaging Asian American youth and their families in quality mental health services. Asian Journal of Psychiatry, 3(4), 169–172. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajp.2010.08.008
Naff, D., Williams, S., Furman-Darby, J., & Yeung, M. (2022). The Mental Health Impacts of COVID-19 on PK–12 Students: A Systematic Review of Emerging Literature. AERA Open, 8. https://doi.org/10.1177/23328584221084722
Ramchand, R., Gordon, J. A., & Pearson, J. L. (2021). Trends in suicide rates by race and ethnicity in the United States. JAMA network open, 4(5), e2111563-e2111563.
Spencer, M., Chen, J., Gee, G., Fabian, C., Takeuchi, D. (2010). "Discrimination and Mental Health-Related Service Use in a National Study of Asian Americans." American Journal of Public Health, 100(12), 2410-2417.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2022). 2022 National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. AHRQ Pub. No. 22(23)-0030.
Ball, A. (2023). Enhancing School Mental Health Services for Children and Youth. Western New York School Mental Health Task Force. https://socialwork.buffalo.edu/schoolmentalhealth
Published May 17, 2023