A student shouts in rage, “I wish I were dead!” Is he expressing suicidal ideation? A student quickly covers cut marks over her left forearm. Should we approach her or respect her privacy?
The National Alliance on Mental Illness data show that one in five adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 will experience a severe mental illness, and only 20 percent will receive treatment. We know, then, that our students are coming to us with mental health needs that are greater than ever before. This can feel overwhelming, especially when we want to help our students achieve to their fullest potential and are not sure how to.
The good news is that basic mental health first aid can offer practical, valuable tools. We don’t need to be a cardiac surgeon to perform CPR, and sometimes CPR can save a life. Similarly, we don’t have to be a licensed mental health professional to provide basic mental health first aid in the classroom.