Tackling the Student Stress Dilemma

15 practices for improving student mental health and well-being

Discover four major areas of opportunity for independent schools to address the growing challenge of student mental health and well-being.

K-12 Tackling Student Stress competitive independent schools

Independent school leaders are increasingly confronted with unprecedented levels of student stress on campus. In addition to the steady rise in the number of students struggling with clinical mental health issues, this stress manifests in maladaptive behaviors, academic misconduct, substance abuse, and poor physical health.

This is a growing challenge for independent schools—and an opportunity for meaningful change. While many of the factors contributing to student stress are beyond a school’s control, independent schools still have tremendous opportunity to improve the mental health and well-being of their students.

Download the complete publication or explore the table of contents for four major areas of opportunity where schools should focus their energy to have the most significant impact on student mental health and well-being.

Section 1: Expand the Student Network

Independent schools can employ many tactics to better identify and reintegrate students in distress. Schools should find ways to expand the reach of counseling staff by equipping the broader school community to recognize students in distress and connect more students with needed care. Schools should also reduce barriers to accessing support and create a reintegration blueprint with clear ownership for students re-entering campus life.

Section 2: Deploy Time in a Student-Centric Way

Independent school leaders should consider whether their school’s mission and values are clearly embedded in the school’s schedule. Schools should maximize assessment-related time in evidence-based ways to create an environment where content mastery and deep understanding replace rote memorization. In addition, schools should design a schedule that makes time for non-academic priorities.

Section 3: Reframe College Admissions

To help manage student stress surrounding the competitive college admissions environment, schools should orient the college counseling process toward student growth instead of simply "getting in." Schools can also help their students think long-term by equipping students with long-term skills that go beyond building a resume for college.

Section 4: Equip Students with Life Skills

Research has shown that teaching students life skills is just as high a priority as other academic subjects. These skills include healthy coping skills that will allow students to thrive in stressful situations and even recognize that some stress can be positive.

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