Identifying and addressing mental health issues within our schools has always been a critical factor in creating and maintaining a safe and supportive learning environment. It has never been more crucial than now amidst a worldwide pandemic. The weight of the pressure and stress realized during the COVID-19 has yet to be fully measured and understood. However, most of us can agree that the impact will likely be at levels we have never experienced previously.
We have struggled to identify and support our students and staff's needs from the pandemic onset. For months we have isolated entire communities. Our children, who need social interaction to develop fully, have been left with minimal social contact with their peers and those they rely on for support. Even the well-adjusted children have begun to feel the impacts. It is even more severe when we start to look at those struggling even before the schools shut down. Families at home are struggling now more than ever to provide support for their children, especially those whose jobs have been affected due to the lockdown.
As we begin to reopen our schools and communities, all of the social and emotional impacts building over the past several months will be coming back to school with the students and teachers, along with the added worry if they are even safe from the virus. To get ahead of the curve, schools will need to put systems into place to help identify those who need support, those who are emotionally vulnerable, those who need professional care and intervention, and those who pose a threat to their safety and others.
Identifying and managing behavioral and mental health concerns has become a problem that is more prominent than ever. Our systems have not kept up with the growing demands and expectations to keep everyone safe. Student information systems (SIS) track students through their academic careers, not to manage concerns like these. While most SIS's do store documents related to academic and disciplinary actions, not intended to document and monitor behavioral intervention plans. If your school does this, it is likely for human error, breaches in confidentiality, and missed opportunities to connect the dots.