DASH Partner Update – March 2022
In recent congressional hearings and bills and in the President’s State of the Union Address, national leaders have called on us to address the mental health crisis among children and youth in our country, including in our nation’s schools. Schools play an essential role in the health and well-being of children and youth. School environments – everything from how teachers manage classrooms, to programs that promote social and emotional learning, to policies and practices to support LGBTQ youth – have a strong and life-long impact on mental health. CDC’s unique role is to lead the nation’s prevention efforts to protect and improve the health of young people. CDC collects data that drive action and partners with schools to implement a comprehensive public health approach that helps protect against negative outcomes among youth.
The CDC “What Works in Schools” approach to primary prevention in local school districts improves health education, connects youth to the services they need, and creates safer and more supportive school environments. This approach has demonstrated positive impacts on substance use, sexual risk, experience of violence, and mental healthexternal icon among students in schools that implement the approach. It represents an important tool to address the current mental health crisis among our young people.
Mental Health Awareness Month is observed every May, and we will again be using the month as an opportunity to promote the magnitude of the mental health challenges that adolescents across the country are facing and highlight school-based strategies that mitigate these experiences. The task before us is great, but DASH is committed to doing everything we can to ensure that youth have the tools and support they need to recover and thrive throughout and beyond this incredibly challenging time. We know that this work is only strengthened with your partnership. In the update below, you will find resources from a variety of partners working to support LGBTQ youth, who are experiencing particularly concerning mental health challenges. Thank you for your dedication to supporting adolescent health and well-being. Real change will take all of us.
Kathleen A. Ethier, Ph.D.
Director, Division of Adolescent and School Health
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
What's New at CDC?
- National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NYHAAD) is April 10th
This annual health observance was created in 2013 to educate the public about the national impact of HIV on young people. In support of the day, DASH produced a NYHAAD toolkit, and is joining with our partners to promote primary prevention strategies, including HIV education, as critical steps toward ending the HIV epidemic in the U.S. In showing your support for this day, tag @CDC_DASH on Twitter and use the #NYHAAD hashtag!
- New Resource on DASH’s Creating Safe Schools for LGBTQ+ Youth Webpage
An Advocates for Youth publication Creating Safer Spaces for LGBTQ Youthpdf iconexternal icon has been added as a resource on DASH’s Creating Safe Schools for LGBTQ+ Youth webpage. This publication is a toolkit for education, healthcare, and community-based organizations. The resources section of this webpage has a number of helpful tools for this important work.
- Examining the Relationship Between LGBTQ-Supportive School Health Policies and Practices and Psychosocial Health Outcomes of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Heterosexual Studentsexternal icon
This study highlights the positive impact that implementing school policies and practices supportive of LGBTQ youth has on the psychosocial health of youth who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) and their heterosexual peers.
March 16: Dr. Jorge Verlenden will present on the Department of Education’s webinar titled, Supporting the Social and Emotional Learning Needs of Afghan and Other Newcomer Students. The webinar will be held on Wednesday, March 16th from 3:00-4:15.
Updates from Partners
- Mental Health America County and State Data Map
Mental Health America launched a dashboardexternal icon that geographically visualizes data from over 2.6 million mental health screens taken through the MHA Online Screening Programexternal icon in 2020 and 2021. The dashboard provides a view of at-risk rates of suicidal ideation, severe depression, PTSD, trauma, and psychosis for every state and county in the U.S.
- Resources to Support LGBTQ Youth
- American Psychological Association (APA): The Resolution on Supporting Sexual/Gender Diverse Children and Adolescents in Schoolspdf iconexternal icon includes the latest research and changes in law and is intended to support efforts promoting safe and supportive schools for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. APA has also compiled resources on policy issuesexternal icon that affect the LGBTQ community.
- American School Counselors Association (ASCA): ASCA published an articleexternal icon highlighting the implications of anti-LGBTQ legislation and the role that school counselors can play in supporting LGBTQ youth.
- GLSEN: A research briefpdf iconexternal icon published in 2017 around the impact of laws that prohibit “the promotion of homosexuality” includes findings relevant to today’s landscape. GLSEN also provides inclusive curricular standardsexternal icon to ensure representation of LGBTQ+ and other marginalized communities to promote student achievement and well-being. Mapsexternal icon that track state laws related to LGBTQ youth and state snapshotsexternal icon that provide data on school experiences of LGBTQ youth can also provide more information about local context.
- Multiple organizations committed to serving the best-interests of youth released a letterpdf iconexternal icon opposing proposals that harm LGBTQ+ youth.
In the Field
To address mental health concerns in their school district, Portland Public Schools partnered with the nonprofit organization, Peace in Schools (PINS) to provide a mindfulness elective class in nine of the district’s 14 high schools. The class takes an equitable, trauma-informed approach to help students develop coping and social-emotional skills and build a sense of connection with peers. Read more about this work on DASH’s website.
- April 10: National Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day
- April 10-16: STD Awareness Week
- April 25-29: National Youth Violence Prevention Week
- May is Mental Health Awareness Month and Sex Ed for All Month
- June is LGBTQ Pride Month
- June 27: National HIV Testing Day