SAMHSA works to increase awareness of behavioral health issues among educators, students, parents, and families by providing helpful information and resources.
Federal Commission on School Safety (FCSS)
On March 12, 2018, President Trump established the Federal Commission on School Safety (the Commission), chaired by Secretary of Education (DoED) Betsy DeVos, to address school safety and the culture of school violence. The Commission will recommend policy and best practices for school violence prevention. The Commission is comprised of cabinet members whose agencies have jurisdiction over key school safety issues: Secretary DeVos, Attorney General (AG) Jeff Sessions, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex M. Azar II, and Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) Kirstjen Nielson. Within HHS, Elinore F. McCance-Katz, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use works in collaboration with Secretary Azar on this Commission.
Ensuring the safety, health and wellbeing of children is a top priority for HHS. Recent studies have shown that approximately one in ten children and youth in the United States experience a serious emotional disturbance, yet only 20 percent of those receive the help they need. Many of these children perform poorly in school and have difficulties at home and in the community. Furthermore, trauma, social isolation, and bullying are highly correlated with the development of serious emotional disturbance and rates of youth depression, anxiety, self-harm and most tragically, suicide are climbing.
Schools are on the front lines of addressing mental health conditions and are vital in identifying and supporting students with these conditions to improve student skill and functioning, promote healthy relationships, and reduce challenging behaviors and youth violence.
HHS mental health and substance use prevention information and resources are available to educators, parents, students and the general public.
For more information on the Federal Commission on School Safety, please visit the FCSS webpage.
While schools provide a number of programs and activities to promote emotional health and prevent substance use among students, they face unprecedented behavioral health challenges. SAMHSA provides helpful information and resources for a variety of educational settings:
- The Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative Road to Success tours four grant sites across the country and provides success stories about creating sustainable positive and healthy changes among children, youth, and families.
- Preventing Suicide: A Toolkit for High Schools – 2012 assists high school districts in designing and implementing strategies to prevent suicide and promote behavioral health.
MentalHealth.gov provides information for educators about mental health and student behavior as well as suggestions on how to support students and families.
Young adults seeking (or in) recovery from a behavioral health issue can benefit from peer support services that promote individual well-being. Find resources and view the webcast of the Awareness Day 2014 National Launch event focused on the value of peer support in assisting young adults with behavioral health challenges, particularly in relation to education, employment, housing, and the criminal justice system. Review the SAMHSA Blog: Tell Your Story of Peer Support.
Most young people ages 12 to 20 do not drink. Get the facts about alcohol use and reasons why children and adolescents should be Too Smart To Start.
MentalHealth.gov offers resources for children and youth who are looking for information about mental health problems and how to seek help.
Parents and Families
By the time most children enter preschool, they may have seen adults drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes in real life, in the media, or both. Even elementary school children may hear about or see illegal drug use.
Visit SAMHSA’s Building Blocks for tips on talking about underage drinking, tobacco, drugs, and other sensitive issues with children.
Parents and caregivers are the leading influence in their child’s decision not to drink. Check out the parent resources on SAMHSA’s “Talk. They Hear You.” website to start—and keep up—the conversation about the dangers of drinking alcohol at a young age. Find other information on SAMHSA’s Too Smart To Start website.
MentalHealth.gov offers parents and caregivers information about what to look for in their children’s behavior, how to talk about mental health, and how to seek help if needed.