4 ways to create safe mental health environments for our students

The Covid-19 pandemic has dealt our nation’s youth a difficult hand. After adapting to virtual learning over the past year and a half, many students this school year prepared to return to in-person education, despite concerns about their emotional well-being and the evolving pandemic situations.

According to recent research, nearly half (48 percent) of U.S. teens are concerned about experiencing social anxiety as they transition back to “normal” life. Additionally, 47 percent express concern about falling behind in school this year, and 43 percent report that they are concerned about mental health challenges as a result of the pandemic.

As teens grapple with these uncertainties in school and beyond, educators are taking note and are anticipating that mental health issues will have a major impact on student progress this year. In fact, 41 percent of surveyed U.S. high school educators anticipate that both student anxiety about returning to in-person learning and students with pre-existing emotional or behavioral challenges experiencing exacerbated conditions will have “a lot” or “tremendous impact” on the quality of learning.

Though it can seem daunting to tackle the challenges and implications the pandemic has had–and will continue to have–on the lives and well-being of youth, we must act now to prioritize their mental health. School districts, parents, and caring adults need to develop a plan to help kids and teens receive the support they need.

Joan Steinberg, President, Morgan Stanley Foundation & CEO, Morgan Stanley Alliance for Children’s Mental Health’s Advisory Board

Joan Steinberg is president of the Morgan Stanley Foundation and CEO of the Morgan Stanley Alliance for Children’s Mental Health’s Advisory Board. Morgan Stanley is funding game-changing solutions that will help bring solutions that address adverse mental health outcomes to youth through its Innovation Awards program.

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