We regularly think about the importance of supporting children’s physical health. We remind them to eat fruits and vegetables, to exercise and to get enough sleep. Ensuring children’s mental health is just as important. Mental health includes a person’s emotional, psychological and social well-being. Our mental health affects how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices.
People often think that mental health issues only affect adults. However, half of all mental health disorders show signs before a person turns 14 years-old. According to the National Association of Mental Health, students age 14 and older with a mental health condition have the highest dropout rate of any disability group. Also, 70 percent of youth in state and local juvenile justice systems have a mental illness.
Early Support Makes a Difference
Early mental health support can help a child before mental health problems begin to interfere with their development.
Over the past three years the Olathe Public Schools Foundation has worked with the Olathe Public Schools to financially support programs that address students’ mental health needs. Partnering with the OPSF, the district piloted a program that embedded mental health therapists at two of the five Olathe high schools. This “seed” of support has allowed the district to find additional partners for the remaining three high schools.
Additionally, with the support of OPSF, the district has implemented a successful mental health parent speaker and support series, added free summer mental health therapy sessions, and added programs focusing on social and emotional learning and suicide prevention. Most recently, The Braden Robertson Fund was launched with the OPSF to provide resources that allow timely access to mental health care for underinsured students.
In 2018-19, the OPSF will continue to support the mental health therapists in the schools, as well as provide new funding for staff training in trauma-informed care and for emergency mental health assessments for students.
“The Olathe Public Schools Foundation has provided the school district with the resources necessary to impact the emotional and mental wellness of our students,” said Jessica Dain, Assistant Superintendent of Support Services. “Our mental health initiative would not be where we it is today without the Foundation.”
If you would like to help the join the Olathe Public Schools Foundation in support of these and other mental health programs with your financial contribution, visit the OPSF website. Make your gift to the Area of Greatest Need and help our Olathe students be in school, ready to learn.
Sources: National Association of Mental Health, www.NAMI.org; and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.mentalhealth.gov