NAESP Partners with White House for Mental Health Conference

The event brought together national leaders from education, state and local governments, as well as mental health advocates, health care providers, faith leaders, and individuals who have struggled with mental health problems. These stakeholders discussed how to work together to reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues.

The conference is part of NAESP’s ongoing partnership with the White House and other national education organizations to raise awareness of common mental health needs facing students and schools.

“NAESP is pleased that the White House continues to recognize mental health issues as a national priority, especially as educators work to support students and families in need,” said Gail Connelly, NAESP Executive Director.

The conference celebrated the launch of www.mentalhealth.gov, which provides resources for educators and schools to help families who may be struggling with mental health issues. The site features information on the basic signs of mental health problems, how to talk about mental health, and ways to find help.

“Today, professionals can identify mental health issues in children at earlier ages, sometimes as young as kindergartners. We must do more as a nation to support their work and provide early intervention support and services,” said Connelly. “NAESP hopes that this partnership with the administration and its awareness efforts will lead to expanded resources for student mental health services at the local level.”

NAESP has invited principals to create a dialogue in their schools and local communities on mental health, including how bullying prevention and social/emotional learning programs have helped raise awareness of mental health and related issues. 

Since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, NAESP has worked to highlight the critical need to support school communities’ safety, and to provide greater access to coordinated mental health services for students and families. Principals must have the ability to bring school and community resources together to provide students with the help they need.

NAESP has provided lawmakers with research-based, nonpartisan recommendations on how policy can better support effective strategies for schools to ensure students’ mental health and well-being. Specifically, the recommendations call for greater authority and resources for principals to create a school culture and climate that centers on student learning.

For more information related to NAESP’s policy and advocacy on school safety and mental health, visit http://www.naesp.org/advocacy.