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Whenever a massacre occurs in an American school, such as Robb Elementary School in Uwald, Texas, there are often discussions about whether school officials could have missed something. “red flags».

How researcher specializing in support student mental health, I believe that these discussions ignore important issues. Prevent violence at school, the discussion should shift. Instead of what schools have missed, the emphasis needs to be on how schools can be more proactive in identifying students with mental health needs before they show signs of suffering.

Ideally, schools should be an environment in which all young people have constant access to caring adults. A typical elementary school teacher will hold more than 1,000 hours with students per academic year and are therefore in an ideal position to recognize behavioral and emotional changes in students.

However teachers are rarely trained in mental and behavioral healththat makes them more likely to focus on students ’behavioral disorders such as aggression and out-of-turn conversation. Not surprisingly, sending children to the office – known in this field as a field of professional discipline – still remains primary mechanism to identify students in need of emotional, behavioral, and mental health support.

Tasks to be more proactive

Increasingly, schools are adopting a structure known as Positive behavioral interventions and support, an active system designed to teach necessary social skills and prevent later behavioral problems. The system is designed to create a positive school environment through support at the school, classroom and individual levels. This includes setting school-wide expectations regarding behavior and assisting teachers in classroom management. Instead of being punished for bad behavior, students are recognized for positive behavior.

However, even in schools that use positive behavioral interventions and support, a reactive approach using data on how often children are sent to the office is still used.

A problematic approach

Why is focusing on discipline a challenge? Consider a typical referral process. Research has consistently shown that Latin American and African American male students are sent to the office in a disproportionate rate. Behaviors that interfere with learning, such as talking out of turn, are more likely to lead to direction, while students with more calm and inner worries, such as anxiety or stress, are often ignored. Discipline disciplines are unreliable and rarely provide information on how schools can help students.

Many security plans in schools have focused on physical security measures such as metal detectors and armed school resource officers. However, a comprehensive and effective security plan includes physical and psychological security.

I have been researching since 2012 universal screening tools as a way to actively identify students in need of emotional or mental health support. Station wagon screening The tool is a brief assessment that typically takes less than two minutes and measures early indicators of social, behavioral, and emotional needs. For example, assessment may ask teachers how often a student argues and behaves impulsively or is bored. Students are asked the same or similar questions about themselves. The teacher can complete the tool check each student in the class in less than 30 minutes for the entire class.

These tools are not diagnostic, but show common areas where the student can benefit from help, such as emotional coping and anger management skills.

Early detection

Research conducted by my colleagues and me over the last decade has consistently shown that screening tools accurately identify students in need extra support at school. Evidence shows that they work in a wide age range and help identify what intervention is needed.

Studies have shown that these screening tools show that students who themselves have noted that they are at risk are likely to have poor scores and lower test scores across the country.

My colleague Stephen Kilgusassociate professor of school psychology and I developed a risk scale for social, academic, and emotional behavior, also known as SAEBRS-used in rural, suburban, and urban school districts throughout the United States.

Increase usage

Nearly a quarter of U.S. schools now use some sort of systematic tool assess the mental and emotional health of students. This is from about 13% in 2014.

And yet most schools do not use such active tools. Administrators cite costs, time and lack of school mental health professionals as barriers to the use of verification tools.

Despite the cost of time and money, these verification tools can pay off in the long run. Ultimately, verification tools connected to prevention systems can reduce significant behavioral problems before 50% and suspension of 22%. This leads to significant time and cost savings.

To begin, survey plans should include who completes viewing tool. It is important to have the views of both the teacher and the student.

New research has demonstrated the benefits of multiple ratings. Students back from kindergarten can use tools to communicate mental health needs when tools that have language are comfortable for children.

Supporting a number of local schools, we found that teachers reported that 40% of students needed support, while 70% of students themselves indicated that they needed support. The voice of students is a critical component in communicating mental health needs.

In December 2021, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Merty reported a pandemic exacerbated the mental health crisis of the country’s youth.

As our society continues to fight mass shootings in schools, schools must play an important role in preventing future tragedies. Effective prevention requires active evaluation. Universal sessions have proven effective in promoting student well-being. The question is whether they will be used by schools.


Schools should not wait for red flags to meet the mental health needs of students


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Citation: Warning signs can be detected earlier through the Universal Student Mental Health Survey (2022, June 3), received June 3, 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-06-sooner-universal-screenings-student- mental.html

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