According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of adolescents experiencing poor mental health is growing, especially among LGBTQ+, female, and Black students. Schools play a vital role in preventing mental health problems among youth, as well as in identifying and supporting youth who do have mental health problems. School-based mental health providers—including social workers, psychologists, counselors, and school nurses as specialized instructional support personnel —lead the way in helping schools fulfill this role. NASN recently released a consensus document, Elevating the Role of School Nurses in School-Based Mental and Behavioral Health, that identified key priorities and opportunities in supporting youth mental and behavioral health in schools. Included in the document are:
- Key priority areas for advancing school-based mental health programs for students.
- Opportunities for school nurses to support school-based mental health programs.
- Considerations for leaders in health and education fields including administrators and policymakers, providers and educators to support youth mental and behavioral health programs.
NASN contracted with Mathematica to engage school nurses and other valuable partners in discussions on implementation of school-based mental health and the benefits in the inclusion of school nurses. School nurses from 17 states, and representatives from national organizations including American Academy of Pediatrics, American Federation of Teachers, the JED Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, Mental Health America, Mental Health School Professional Grant Program, National Alliance for Medicaid in Education, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Association of State School Nurse Consultants, National Center for School Mental Health, National Education Association, National Parent Teacher Association, School Social Work Association of America, School-based Health Alliance (SBHA) and AASA: The School Superintendents Association participated in these discussions and contributed to the content of this consensus document. They shared their lived experiences supporting student mental health and identified policy and structural opportunities to further integrate school nurses into SBMH delivery models.