Students are provided with various resources for academic success, such as school supplies, backpacks, textbooks, digital tools, and supportive programs. For youth to be successful in academia and in their communities, they need to have all of their needs met. It’s important that among the many tools youth are provided, they have the support and knowledge to raise their concerns and ask for help when it comes to mental health and wellness.

It’s helpful for youth to see their peers, trusted adults, and family model the healthy habits that support mental health and wellness. Modeling self-care, demonstrating resilience in the face of challenges, talking about mental health without judgment, sharing resources, and building a support network can help youth develop self-regulation skills, promote wellness, develop healthy relationships and reduce the risk of suicide.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18.8 percent of youth have serious thoughts of suicide. Forty-five percent of youth who identify as LGBTQ+ have serious thoughts of suicide, and they are four times more likely to attempt suicide. Youth from historically underserved communities are among those who are at higher risk for suicide ideation and attempts.

The youth mental health crisis manifests often in schools and community, contributing to higher drop-out rates, student disengagement, chronic absenteeism, increased disciplinary actions, and the tragic loss of life. Addressing the complex social and emotional and mental health and wellness needs of students is fundamental to the future of California. This includes reducing the stigma surrounding mental health to empower students to speak up when they need help.

Through connection, education, safe spaces, and resources suicide is preventable. Everyone has a role in preventing suicide. Prevention starts with a conversation. Having a willingness to express concern for a person in crisis and talking with them is often the first step to getting them help. Let the person know they are not alone by listening and being a supportive listener. Being present in another person’s life is helpful. Building connections lets the other person know they have the beginnings of a support system.

Sharing knowledge and resources can help those in crisis. Helpful resources include:

During Suicide Prevention Month, it’s imperative to raise awareness of this public health problem and highlight the role we all have in supporting youth in their wellbeing. According to a study by the American Psychological Association, children are 21 times more likely to receive the mental health services they need when services are provided on a school campus. The need for comprehensive and coordinated mental health services for students in school is an essential part of a comprehensive education plan.

The Santa Clara County Office of Education provides technical assistance to local districts creating safe and welcoming spaces to provide mental health services in partnership with the County of Santa Clara, community partners, philanthropy, and local school districts.

Through advocacy and collaboration, we can support youth in their journeys beyond the classroom.