The School Role in Mental Health
Schools are not, and should not be, in the business of treating mental illness. They do, however, need to provide an environment that sustains good mental health, and they do need to acknowledge and understand that some of their students suffer from mental illnesses that may impact their ability to learn and function in the academic and social environment of the school.
What does this mean, in practice? It means that schools must try to create and sustain positive practices in the way all people interact within the school - teachers, students, parents, bus drivers, support staff and administrators. Without careful nurturing and deliberate attention, a school's culture runs the risk of becoming toxic for many of its people, adults and students alike. The PBIS program is geared toward creating school environments that are positive, predictable, consistent and physically and emotionally safe. Such environments help teachers to teach, students to learn and healthy relationships to flourish.
School faculty and staff, as major players in a student's life during the school year, also need to recognize the primary symptoms of mental illness. Resources outside of the school's expertise, such as community mental health agencies, may be needed to effectively treat such illnesses.