With all the pressures that weigh on educators, it is especially important to always remember why we chose this work in the first place: to help students. Full of hope and promise, young people are the very reason we entered the profession. But for many students, the pandemic has diminished their hope and made them question their promise.
Mental health issues among young people are on the rise, and many students are exhibiting increasingly challenging behaviors in school. To support students and show them that we care, we need to engage them in fostering a positive school climate and culture that makes everyone feel safe, welcome, and loved. And we must listen to what they have to say.
In our cover feature, “Breaking the Stigma,” students share their work as part of the newly launched NHS Student Leadership Network on Mental Health. Led by student facilitators who are nominated by their advisers, the network enables NHS students from around the country to connect with each other and to share ideas for improving mental health supports in schools. “People don’t want to talk about mental health,” says Lawson Morris, a student facilitator from Oskaloosa High School in Oskaloosa, IA. “I’ve had friends come to me who were afraid to tell even their own families that they were struggling.”
Morris, a junior, is serving as one of the network’s nine student facilitators. Together, they are creating agendas for monthly virtual meetings, planning a fall conference, and taking care of their own mental health so that their peers learn how to prioritize their own mental health, too.
I applaud these students for their work on this exciting new endeavor. We all have much to learn with and from them, and their voices and perspectives are powerful.
Yours in Leadership,
Ronn K. Nozoe
A national school survey from NASSP found that 73% of principals and 74% of students report they needed help with their mental health or emotional health last year.