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Build supportive schools and support student mental health with our new resources
Toolkit, Youth Insights Report focus on improving student well-being

Smiling Student wearing backpack in school hallway

As schools begin a new academic year, the National Center for Youth Law continues to ensure campuses are safe spaces for all students to learn, grow, and form connections with people who support their health and well-being.

With students experiencing unprecedented mental health needs on top of learning loss and other issues exacerbated by the pandemic, schools are struggling to provide young people with the services they need. Our new resources will help communities build more supportive campus environments. 

What do students need? Grounded in the experiences and wisdom of young people, How Schools Can Support Student Mental Health and Well-Being is a toolkit filled with resources, information and strategies that school staff, parents, and advocates can use to aid in better meeting students' mental, social and emotional health needs. First-hand accounts and recommendations from more than 90 California students have been separately published in our new Youth Insights Report.

"Students are incredibly knowledgeable about what they need to thrive at school," said Taylor Chambers, a mental health legal fellow at the National Center for Youth Law and co-author of the toolkit and accompanying Youth Insights Report. "Hopefully, with these resources, administrators, educators, students, and other staff in the school community can work together to strengthen mental health supports, promote student well-being and create the supportive school environment that all young people deserve."

Take action in your community with these free resources

The toolkit is divided into three actionable sections: 1) How to create a supportive school, 2) How to sustain a supportive school, and 3) Where to learn more about supportive school practices.

Educators and community members can learn about:

  • Creating and sustaining inclusive school practices;
  • Promoting a positive mental health culture;
  • Making their school a center of learning, wellness and healing; and
  • Partnering with community-based organizations, counties and health plans.

The Youth Insights Report, based on interviews conducted this spring, highlights several areas in which students feel schools are excelling and falling short in providing support, and offers recommendations for schools to strengthen their mental health supports and improve overall student well-being.

Students shared they felt schools could better support students' mental health and well-being in many ways, including by:

  • Providing more resources to students, beyond things like numbers to helplines;
  • Educating and training staff on mental health needs and resources for students;
  • Offering a more robust mental health and well-being curriculum;
  • Supporting the development of more student organizations that focus on mental health education; and
  • Creating and supporting infrastructure for peer support programs at schools.