Thursday, August 11, 2022

Majority of Adults Favor Mental Health Resources in Schools, Worry About Gun Violence

An overwhelming majority of American adults agree that schools should play a key role in students’ mental health, including educating students about mental health and referring children to the appropriate professional if they notice signs of a mental health issue. The findings are the latest from APA’s Healthy Minds Monthly Poll.

“The overwhelming support for mental health programming in schools is so important for our next generation, as we face an unprecedented mental health crisis for adolescents and youth,” APA President Rebecca Brendel, M.D., J.D., said in a news release. “We must continue to support evidence-based practices that help children when they need it most.”

The Healthy Minds Monthly Poll was conducted by Morning Consult on July 21 and 22 with a sample of 2,210 adults. The interviews were conducted online.

Eighty-three percent of respondents agreed that schools play a crucial role in identifying possible signs of mental health issues in students, 87% agreed that it is important for school staff to participate in mental health trainings, and 85% agreed that it is important for every child to have a positive role model who is not a parent or caregiver. Additionally, nearly 3 out of 4 parents said they would feel comfortable referring their child to a mental health professional if they noticed a concerning change in their child’s attitude or behavior. However, the survey found that Black parents are significantly less comfortable referring their child to a mental health professional (54%) compared with their White (76%) and Hispanic (72%) counterparts.

Further, 55% of respondents ranked gun violence as one of the top three issues that they are most concerned will negatively impact K-12 students. Fifty-three percent of parents said they are concerned about the effects of COVID-19 on their child’s mental health.

The poll also gauged respondents’ anxiety around current events, comparing the responses with those from July’s Healthy Minds Monthly Poll. The findings include the following:

  • 85% are anxious about inflation, similar to the finding in last month’s poll.
  • 55% are anxious about the COVID-19 pandemic, an increase of seven points, with significant increases among Black adults (22 points), moms (11 points), parents (10 points), and Hispanic adults (nine points).
  • 60% are anxious about climate change, an increase of four points.
  • 70% are anxious about gun violence, an increase of four points.
  • 56% are anxious about the future of reproductive rights, an increase of six points.

“Many global issues are weighing on Americans’ minds as we move into the end of summer,” APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A., said in the release. “While the news can be stressful, taking action on an issue can help us to feel empowered, and for many, ensuring we aren’t exposing ourselves to constant negative news can help.”

For related information, see the Psychiatric News Alerts “Americans Anxious Over Current Events, But Most Rate Their Overall Mental Health as Good” and “School MH Professionals Found to Be Biased Against Black, Latinx Students.”

(Image: iStock/Dusan Stankovic)

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