It’s no surprise that mental health issues are becoming a major concern across the United States. After nearly a year of social isolation, compounded with economic and political uncertainty, and a global pandemic, the number of reported mental health issues are on the rise. One group, in particular, is feeling the brunt of these issues: adolescents.
Adolescent Mental Health Decline
It was reported in 2019 that mental health issues were on the rise amongst adolescents and young adults. That was a full year before the world shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With community and school shutdowns, limited social interaction, increased isolation, the possibility of abuse or neglect in the home, and a lack of structure or support that many adolescents depend on, it’s not a surprise that 2020 saw further increases for the specific group.
According to the CDC, interpersonal connections are critical to positive mental health in teens and young adults. With continued isolation and uncertainty, we can only assume that mental health issues will continue to rise in the adolescent population. The mental health crisis in this age group has even forced school districts to reopen in order to provide that connectivity and structure that so many teenagers require for better mental health.
Why Is This An Issue?
It’s estimated that 19% of people in the United States are living with mental health illnesses; that’s more than 47 million people. Yet, there are not nearly enough mental health professionals to take on the growing demand and it takes years (up to eight) for someone to become a practicing and licensed clinician in the United States. In states like Oregon, Utah, and Alaska, it’s not just the number of providers, but the access to those providers that has become a growing challenge. With COVID-19’s impact on the economy and the number of job losses across the country, access to health care to help pay for mental health care has also been challenged.
For populations that struggle to access mental health support, going undiagnosed and untreated, they can pose a threat to themselves and to others. It can cause them to act out in ways that are dangerous to the community. As schools consider reopening to continue instruction and provide structure, they should also consider the physical safety and security of their buildings beyond that of just COVID-19 precautions. Active shooter incidents in schools should not be forgotten just because COVID-19 has taken center stage. According to the National Safety & Security Protection Association (NSSPA), 83% of active shooter attackers were current or former students. That statistic, coupled with the fact that students will be reconvening with increased levels of mental health issues, should be taken into serious consideration.
Solution for Schools: Active Shooter Training
Our Nation’s Experts (ONE) Training provides affordable and accessible solutions for school districts around the world. Developed by former law enforcement officers, teachers, former special forces operators, and government safety professionals, ONE Training’s programs were developed with both realistic tactics and safety in mind. We provide five different levels of training, which are now available online. The online platform allows districts to offer training to all of their faculty and staff, including greeters and bus drivers, in a way that is affordable and more accessible, especially with COVID-19 restrictions around gatherings.
Active shooter preparedness training provides schools with realistic ways to react when an attacker is inside the building. Due to the statistics around who attackers generally are, we only train school faculty, staff, and administrators. Our training empowers these adults with realistic strategies for how to run, hide, barricade, and fight if necessary, based on their location in the school, classroom setup, and student demographics. Our goal with training is to adequately prepare districts with the actionable steps to take to protect their students, faculty, and staff. No fear mongering, no traumatic tactics, just real strategies.
We would highly encourage all school districts to seriously consider the impact of the growing mental health crisis in adolescents on school safety and security. The more prepared a school district is for an attack, the more effective they can be in saving lives. Until we can prevent them, we must prepare for them.
If you’re interested in learning more about our online training, please connect with us today. We would love to talk with you about a specialized plan to meet the needs of your district.