Mental Health, Social-Emotional Learning, and School Safety

Students and school staff are struggling. A 2022 National Center for Education Statistics report found that 69 percent of public schools reported an increase in students seeking mental health services, while only 56 percent of public schools agreed they could effectively provide those services to all students in need. In the same year, 85 percent of principals and 73 percent of teachers reported experiencing job-related stress.

It is time for significant increased federal support to promote the well-being of educators and students in our nation’s schools. The emotional well-being of school communities is a critically important factor in the safety, security, and comprehensive success of students.

NAESP believes that:

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Principals must establish a positive school climate and culture that nurtures the emotional, mental, social, and physical safety of each member of the school community;

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Each child has the right to learn in school without interference from violence, including gun violence, and that school safety needs to be adequately funded by federal and state governments;

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Safe schools offer school-based mental health supports and ensure adequate funding and resources; and

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School counselors and mental health professionals should infuse prevention and intervention services into the learning process and integrate services provided through school-community partnerships.

NAESP recommends the following policies and legislation to support the health, safety, and well-being of students and staff:

  • Expand access to health care professionals and services
  • Increase the number and hiring of school counselors and other student support personnel
  • Promote strategies that enhance emotional well-being and resiliency

Take Action

Advocate for your students and school by going to the NAESP Advocacy Action Center to send a message to Congress about this important issue.

Source: Survey by the National PTA with support from the CDC Foundation (May 2023).