The U.S. behavioral health system must more actively listen to and address the needs of adolescents and young adults as well as their families, service providers and communities.
Young Americans need to be engaged in and empowered through a re-imagined behavioral health system designed to serve all youth. Youth-led initiatives backed by strong youth/adult partnerships must lead the way.
Evidence shows that comprehensive Social Emotional Learning approaches—in and out of school—work. They:
Improve young people’s mental health, attitudes about self, others and school
Create a more positive classroom environment
Generate an 11% gain on standardized achievement tests
Result in fewer conduct problems, less emotional stress and reduced drug use
An SEL approach helps adults as well, with results showing:
Teachers who possess SEL competencies stay in the classroom longer because they can work more effectively with challenging students —one of the main causes of burnout.
Significant links between SEL skills in kindergarten and young adult outcomes across areas of education, employment, criminal activity, substance use and mental health.
Technology holds enormous potential through innovative apps that provide low-cost, efficient, 24/7 behavioral health care navigation, self-help support and skill-training, diagnostics tools, and guidance on community resources.
Community-based involvement is essential as providers grounded in communities can connect and collaborate to address disparities in behavioral health care across multiple systems of juvenile justice, foster care, substance abuse and education.
For youth of color, greater investment is needed in: 1) suicide prevention and intervention strategies tailored to the needs of black children and teens; 2) improved access and availability of mental health services; 3) a more diverse workforce contributing to mental health services and research; and, 4) a better understanding of persistent racial disparities in youth suicide.