Promotion of mental health includes a comprehensive approach to wellness. Students need to be taught what mental health is and given the skills to achieve it, including the social-emotional skills needed for mental and physical well-being. These are defined in the Health Education Content Standards for California Public Schools.
Part of mental health promotion and suicide prevention in youth lies in the development of students’ social and emotional wellness. (Note: “wellness” refers to overall emotional well-being for the purposes of this document.) Two evidence based strategies, Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and Mindfulness, share similar goals and outcomes for the emotional, social, and academic development of youth. Both enhance youth academic achievement and wellness, decrease risky behaviors, and improve relationships with peers and teachers. Each uses a different approach to achieve these outcomes (Lantieri, Zakrzewski, 2015). The SEL framework promotes intra-personal, interpersonal and cognitive competencies. Mindfulness, paying attention in a systematic way, deepens the internal ability to apply the skills learned through SEL. These strategies complement each other. SEL develops skills and Mindfulness enhances the ability to apply those skills such that a student can better understand themselves and others, develop meaningful relationships, and make constructive decisions.
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) enhances youth academic achievement and emotional well-being. It decreases risky behaviors and improves relationships with peers and teachers. The development of SEL skills is a form of upstream suicide prevention.”
“Mindfulness” is defined by the Greater Good Science Center as a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. It can also enhance the ability to apply SEL skills.
Evidence suggests that suicidal ideation and behaviors are closely associated with sleep disturbances, and in some cases, this association appears to exist above and beyond depression.
Self care is required for personal wellness. It is not self indulgence to care for one’s self but rather self preservation – the means to achieving an effective and fulfilling life.
Social media is a space in which young people express their feelings, communicate and collaborate with others. It has many benefits. But the role it can play in both minimizing and increasing risk for suicide is complicated and worth giving a closer look.
Cultural competence is a set of congruent behaviors attitudes and policies that enables effective work in cross-cultural situations. Competence implies the capacity to function effectively within the context of cultural beliefs, behaviors and needs presented. (Office of Minority Health, Dept. of Health and Human Services, 2000)
We all experience emotional ups and downs from time to time caused by events in our lives. The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and others (LGBTQ+) community faces mental health conditions just like the rest of the population.
How a person attempts suicide, the means they use, plays a key role in whether they live or die.
Most school transitions occur simultaneously with crucial developmental changes – both physical and psychological. These shifts to “more socially complex and academically demanding contexts” create times when students need a supportive, stable, and caring environment.
The questions in this section are the voices of students who participated in local Bay Area high school health classes.