Student Mental Health FAQ
What is Mental Health?
Mental health, defined by the World Health Organization, is "a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” Just like physical health, we all have mental health. Mental health affects the way that we think, feel, act and handle stress. Having a healthy status when it comes to mental health is important at all stages of life.
What is Mental Illness?
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a mental illness is a condition that can affect your thinking, feelings, behaviors and mood. It can affect your day to day living and how you relate to others. Being able to tell the difference between expected/typical behaviors and what might be a sign of a mental illness isn’t always easy. If you think you or your child might have a mental illness, the first step is to realize that you are not alone and it doesn’t mean that you or your child is broken. Mental illness is more common than you think. One out of six U.S. youth between the ages of 6-17 experience a mental health condition each year. One out of five adults experience a mental health condition each year.
There are many different types of mental illness; however, the most common are depression, anxiety, behavioral disorders and eating disorders. Each mental illness has its own signs and symptoms. Common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents can include the following:
• Excessive worrying or fear
• Feeling excessively sad or low
• Change in appetite
• Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
• Extreme mood changes
• Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
• Avoiding friends and social activities
• Difficulties understanding or relating to others
• Change in sleeping habits or feeling tired and having low energy
• Lack of insight
• Substance Abuse
• Physical ailments without cause
• Thoughts of suicide
• Inability to complete daily tasks, handle stressors, etc.
What causes mental illness?
Typically, there isn’t one particular reason an individual develops a mental illness – it’s usually a combination of factors, which may include:
- Inherited traits or genes
- Psychological or emotional problems brought on by major life changes and/or events
- Exposure to environmental stressors before birth
How common is mental illness?
Millions of Americans are affected by mental illness. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 in 5 adults in America experience mental illness each year, and 1 in 5 children ages 13–18 have, or will develop a serious mental illness.
What are the most common types of mental illness?
There are many different types of mental illness, but some of the most common types are depression, anxiety, behavioral disorders, and eating disorders.
How do I know if my child might be having difficulties in school due to mental health concerns?
Parents know their children better than anyone. There are many different indicators that might help you recognize if your student is struggling in school. Below are a few possible signs and changes to look for:
• Suddenly complaining of illness when it's time to go to school or avoiding school
• Change in school performance
• Increase in school disciplinary issues
• Decreased concentration at school and home
• Sudden changes in mood
• Complains of physical ailments such as headaches, stomachaches, fatigue or chest tightness
• Conflict with peers
• History of stressful/traumatic life events
• Stressful situations at home such as family conflict, substance abuse, changes in living status, or domestic violence
These are just a few warning signs that your child is having difficulties that may be related to mental health concerns. It’s important to focus on and look for any significant changes or warning signs for your child. All children are different and handle situations in their own ways.
How is Bibb County Schools addressing the mental health needs of students?
- BCS Learning Supports Department includes a Mental Health Services Social Worker to coordinate the mental health services and initiatives available to our students and their families.
- Students with emotional and behavioral needs may receive additional classroom support through their Response to Intervention (RTI) Team.
- BCS has three licensed School Social Workers who are trained mental health professionals with specific expertise in child and adolescent mental health issues.
- Cahaba Medical school-based counseling program provides individual therapy to students at their local school as a part of their school day.
- BCS counselors provide classroom lessons on social-emotional learning, character education, peer relationships, and healthy coping skills.
- BCS has a suicide protocol and crisis intervention plan to address students who are experiencing a mental health crisis.
- BCS has several employees at each school site that are Youth Mental Health First Aid Trained
I am concerned about my child's privacy if I talk with my child's school about their mental health concerns. Will information be shared with anyone?
State and federal statutes provide specific protection for students and parents regarding mental health information. No information about your child's mental health may be shared without your written consent.