There is a mental health crisis in our country that has not been addressed.
As a society, we must respond to our acute needs. At the same time, we must form a vision for the future. Our elected officials tend to offer only short-term plans (if any) that seek to relieve the suffering caused by behaviors we inflict on ourselves and others. We also need a long-term plan that would diminish the harm for future generations while optimizing the possibilities for success and the skills to manage oneself, one’s relationships and one overall life in a healthy way beneficial way to all.
By any definition, a long-term plan includes educating our young in a way of thinking that would lessen their chances of engaging in risky behaviors and which significantly raises the chances of advancing sorely-needed quality education and performance equitably – along with the opportunity for children to live life out from their best selves.
These risky behaviors tear families apart and cost taxpayers billions of dollars that could be used in our state budget in more productive way. They also dramatically affect school performance and are a major reason that U.S schools perform poorly in many academic categories compared to other developed nations. (22% of 8th-graders lack reading proficiency, according to the U.S. Dept of Education. The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), ranks the U.S. 27th out of 34 most developed countries in math performance and 20th in science performance based on student scores.)
A long-term SEL plan, involving a coalition of parents, community, government, business and schools, is a way to address problems that are now allowed to eviscerate our society.
Here are just some of the problems other than poor academic results and high levels of students disengagement from learning:
✤ Violence: 10 million children are annual victims of domestic violence while 22% of students in 2015 reported bullying. 12 million domestic partners in U.S. annually experience violence. U.S. has the highest murder and violent assault rates of all advanced countries.
✤ Sexual Abuse: 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys in U.S. are sexually abused before aged 18. 325,000 women are raped each year. 1/6 of American women are raped in their lifetimes.
✤ Mental Health: 3 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. As of 2015, suicide was the second leading cause of death for ages 15-34. Nearly 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. – 43.8 million – experience mental illness in a given year.
✤ Drug Usage: 58.2% of HS seniors reported they drink, and 34.9% used marijuana. 23.5 million Americans are addicted to alcohol and drugs – or 1 in every 10 over the age of 12 . $740 billion annually are the related costs due to crime, lost work productivity and health care.
✤ Workplace: 48% of American adults report experiencing abusive behavior at work. Billions are lost to stress, conflict and trauma.