The following is a campaign from NASSP for leaders to actively contact their legislators to take federal actions on five key areas to support the needs of districts to handle the mental health crisis we are experiencing across our nation. Please consider coping these words to use in your communications to legislators, on your social platforms, in all of your communications to your local community partners to also contact legislators and I thank NASSP for the powerful wording used below.
Schools across the country are experiencing a mental health crisis. Students and educators need more federal support, and Congress can do five key things right now that would tackle this growing crisis:
Our students and our schools cannot wait. We need action now! #PrincipalsForMentalHealth
According to NASSP’s recent Survey of America’s School Leaders and High School Students, three-quarters of school leaders (73%) and students (74%) report they needed help with their mental or emotional health last year. I can also tell you that oftentimes students’ mental health challenges manifest themselves as behavioral issues, putting further stress on educators who are already stretched too thin. One-half of school leaders (51%) reported in the survey student behavior is worse than before the pandemic, with the majority concerned about online bullying (85%), in-person/physical bullying (82%) and drug use (80%) in their school. A significant portion (82%) of school leaders also identified using federal funding to increase the number of school psychologists, counselors and other health professionals as important.
School leaders are uniquely positioned to leverage trauma-informed strategies to address the enormous wave of social, emotional, and mental health needs among students, but frankly, we need increased federal support to do it. For that reason, I support the following policies, and I urge you to take action on them:
Collectively, this legislation and funding would greatly expand our ability to recruit, hire, and train school based mental health professionals; require the Department of Education to research and disseminate student and educator mental health best practice guidance; establish new school mental health grant programs; and increase partnerships between schools and community mental health providers.
With this support, I truly believe that we can make great strides towards taking better care of our students and put them in a situation where they can succeed academically. For many, that simply isn’t possible while they are struggling to cope with intense mental health challenges. Please help us help them by supporting this important policy in 2023.
Over the past decade, we can see a trend of an increase in addressing the needs of mental health. The global pandemic added to this increase; in addition, the pressures of social media and societal changes increase the forces felt by not only our children but all.
Today is the day to begin to address these issues. We cannot wait any longer to start placing plans to act to help all of our children and adults. Consider also transitioning to a Two Rule school as you approach implementing all of these supports to provide everyone with the opportunity to feel good and feel safe at school. Be the solution daily in a world that needs you.
As an educator for the past two decades, boys have been in academic crisis. “Nearly twice as many boys as girls have trouble reading, are diagnosed with language disabilities, and are referred to special education classes. 41% of children in the United States are not reading at a basic level by third grade, and a majority of them are boys.”
In the article America’s Boy Crisis, Crichton writes about America experiencing 26 mass shootings in the last 10 years. These shootings were committed by deeply troubled youth, aged 12 to 25 years old. All were male, and more than half were white.
In his research he discovered, all gave warning signs that were ignored by authority figures. I will state that they were not noticed by many people involved in their lives. Mental Health issues overlooked and not provided to our youth for many years.
Six of these shooters, based on information available, lived in fatherless homes.
Critchlow refers to this as a lost generation—Generation Z, those born between the years of 1997-2012. He describes this generation as semi-illiterate, addicted to social media, and secular.
African American and Hispanic youth have seen reports of academic risks at high rates, also tied in many cases with fatherless homes and other barriers over the past decades. White males experienced similar barriers, challenges, and academic shortcomings. It is not a race issue, but a gender issue. All of our boys are at risk, with some facing a higher level of challenges and barriers, but all at risk.
I know from my involvement in education and trainings, sociologists and experts have talked for decades about social consequences of fatherless households. Now I know single moms can do an excellent job in raising children, but mentioned in the article is evidence in research where the one’s who could not have issues.
“Less time is spent by youth today than a decade ago on socializing, attending parties, sporting, or entertainment events. Drugs, legal, and illegal, are destroying young men. In 2021 alone, 107,000 opioid deaths have occurred. Most of these deaths (69%) occurred among males.”
“Farrell and Gray identify four crises that boys now face: a crisis of education, a crisis of physical health, a crisis of economic health, and a crisis of mental health. All these lead to a void of purpose in many young men’s lives, and a consequent struggle to achieve a sense of self-worth.” -Bob Funk. Warren Farrell and John Gary are the authors of the book The Boy Crisis.
In conclusion, I would like to make a few points to ponder about the young boys in our lives. Since I entered the world of education way back in the late 80’s, boys have been in crisis. I do believe if we would look at the data they were in crisis before I began. All of our boys are in crisis. I will also say our children boys and girls are in crisis. My focus for this blog is on the boys.
Are there specific things you are doing to support the boys in your school? Do you have ideas to share? Boys learn differently than girls. It is important for all of us to remember, one glove does not fit all.
I will have more to share about supporting boys in education. The most important things we need to remember are:
Additional resources for this topic would be Michael Gurian who has written 24 books in the field of education, parenting, and psychology of boys and girls. Christina Hoff Sommers’ book The War Against Boys, How Misguided Policies Are Harming Our Young Men or Michael Thompson’s work in this field. In addition, I discovered an article written by Donald T. Critchlow discussing how mass shootings spotlight a lost generation of white youths mentioned in the blog.
Tom Mortenson, Pell Institute
Michael Thompson, Ph.D. and Teresa H. Barker, It’s a Boy, p.201.
Michael Gurian with Kathy Stevens, Boys & Girls Learn Differently, p.36.
Michael Thompson, Ph.D. and Teresa H. Barker, It’s a Boy, p.211.
Michael Gurian with Kathy Stevens, Boys & Girls Learn Differently, p.122.
Michael Thompson, Ph.D. and Teresa H. Barker, It’s a Boy, p.186.
Michael Gurian with Kathy Stevens, Boys & Girls Learn Differently, p.307.
Michael Gurian and Kathy Stevens, The Minds of Boys, p.255.
Michael Gurian with Kathy Stevens, Boys & Girls Learn Differently, p.308.
Michael Gurian and Kathy Stevens, The Minds of Boys, p.22.
Donald T. Critchlow, Katzin Family Foundation professor at Arizona State University, is the author of Revolutionary Minds: Five Monsters Who Turned Liberation Into Tyranny
We celebrate our Thanksgiving this week. A time to reflect on all we are thankful for in our lives. I look around, and I know I have all that I need to have in my life. Almost a year ago, I faced horrible news of cancer; 12 years ago, we faced as a family a horrific car incident with a semi truck crashing into the side of the car with Sarah, Aubrey, Jeanette, and I inside. Just a few months ago, the doctors scared us again with the news of cancer, but thank God we have survived that.
The Thanksgivings we have may all be very different, some may be similar, and some may be far less. There is one thing I know we all share, and that is the “Thankfulness” of all of those who are serving to protect us today to keep us safe. My faith and all I have been given, I thank God.
Blessings to you this week of Thanksgiving. May you find gratitude, warmth, hope, and love during this season.
Do you type in the address of your destination, and the GPS produces several options as choices to take? One of the choices is fastest route. Do you select it and go?
You blindly trust this device will take you in the right direction with no questions. Hmm. Why do you think we do that? Maybe you do not do it. Let me know if you don’t. I just know so many people who type in the address and go. I am guilty of it.
This will sound crazy, but it is true because of my healing process. I had to use my navigation system after my brain injury all of the time. I had to drive in patterns. If I went to a parking garage, I would pass up all of the open spaces to go all the way to the top and pray no one was in my spot. Yes, like Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory if you are familiar with the show. I had a spot!
We will talk more about direction this week.
I have two grandsons growing up at this time. I was discussing a few days ago with my editor how boys have been in crisis for a while in education. However, I believe it is reaching more and more as the levels are increasing. What do you think?
I have spent some time reading many articles and resources. There is still so much to learn. We can look at this issue this week and discover more if others share their experiences with us.
Have you ever experienced “unexpected?” What is “unexpected?” Well, it is what was not expected. Would you wish to see a fish in the desert? No.
The season of Thanksgiving brings opportunities for gratitude, and then we move into the season of giving as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Many times during this season, I think about the “unexpected” miracles. There are also so many celebrations throughout the year, but take the time to think about those “unexpected” moments, which may be the time that changes your life or the lives of others. What you find may be “unexpected!”
Do you know what we all need? A little laughter, encouragement, hope, inspiration, and motivation. Some days we need a hug, while others need a little escape to relax. Let’s try to find a little of what we need this week.