The availability of a continuum of mental health supports impacts school climate and student wellbeing as measured by the School Quality and Student Support (SQSS) accountability measures. To create a systemic response, prevention efforts are primary and individualized supports need to be available for students who struggle with behavior issues or who aren’t responding to core instruction. Behavior and academic challenges, often indicated by absenteeism and course failure, are an indicator that a system to increase emotional safety and security hasn’t been fully realized.
Child and Adolescent Mental Health
The majority of mental illness onset may occur in early childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood. Adolescent youth are also vulnerable for co-occurring substance use and abuse. Additionally, challenges that do not meet diagnostic criteria, including adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and life-related mental problems and distress, may appear in in school-age youth and compound mental health issues and concerns.
The Student Assistance Prevention-Intervention Services Program (SAPISP)
The SAPISP, operated by OSPI, places Student Assistance Specialists in schools to implement comprehensive student assistance programs that address problems associated with substance use and other at-risk behaviors.
Behavior Best Practices and Strategies
The Behavior Menu provides best practices for LAP students in grades K–12 and focuses on addressing behavior needs to improve student academic outcomes. The work of the behavior panel aligns with the work of the OSPI Student Discipline Task Force, the Educational Opportunity Gap Oversight and Accountability Committee (EOGOAC), and the Social Emotional Learning Benchmarks Workgroup.
Positive school climate is a culture of genuine support, safety, and care for each person in every school setting.
The National School Climate Center (NSCC, 2007) identifies the following elements of a positive school climate:
- Norms, values, and expectations that support people feeling socially, emotionally and physically safe
- People are engaged and respected
- Students, families, and educators work together to develop and contribute to a shared school vision
- Educators model and nurture attitudes that emphasize the benefits and satisfaction gained from learning
- Each person contributing to the operations of the school and the care of the physical environment