The Jed Foundation Announces New, Innovative Comprehensive Approach for High Schools to Strengthen Suicide Prevention
February 16, 2021
The new framework is a public health, systematic approach that schools can use to assess and strengthen their policies and programs to protect emotional health and prevent suicide.
NEW YORK, NY — The Jed Foundation (JED) announced today the publication of an innovative framework that helps schools implement systems-level change to protect emotional health and reduce suicide risk among high school students as rates of depression and anxiety increase.
More than half of all American teens have struggled with mental health issues due to the impact of COVID-19. The Comprehensive Approach to Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention in High Schools is a first-of-its-kind, strengths-based solution to address the crisis and offer local districts and high schools a blueprint for developing a systemic approach to supporting student mental health, identifying students who may be struggling, and connecting them with mental health care. The Comprehensive Approach helps high schools create a community of caring so that everyone in the school community is able to contribute to the emotional health and wellbeing of students.
The new framework, developed in partnership with the College Mental Health Program at Harvard’s McClean Hospital, was inspired by a national survey of the mental health of high school students conducted by JED with Fluent Research in the fall of 2019. The survey findings highlighted what has been suspected for some time: administrators, caregivers, and high school students agree that high schools must focus on improving the mental health and well-being of students and better prepare them for the transition from high school to college and adulthood. The survey also found that nearly all administrators believe in the importance of a comprehensive program for mental health, emotional well-being, and suicide prevention, but only half of schools have one.
“We know that some schools are already implementing mental health programs, but there is still a significant need and opportunity for schools to coordinate efforts into a comprehensive plan that increases protective factors, reduces risk factors and identifies and connects students who may be struggling with mental health care,” said JED Executive Director and CEO John MacPhee. “JED is committed to working within schools’ existing infrastructure to build and implement a sustainable and strategic plan that promotes student emotional health and prevents suicide.”
“Adolescence is such an important time. Teens’ brains and bodies are at peak capacity for learning, and they are working on building a sense of meaning and direction for their soon-to-be adult selves,” said Suzanne Button, Ph.D., senior clinical director, JED High School Programming.” Teens are facing unprecedented social, emotional, and life challenges right now, and all of us need to partner in providing needed supports. Our Comprehensive Approach will guide high schools, which are a key center of adolescent life, in their efforts to nurture learning, the development of strong friendships, and the shaping of a strong, healthy identity for the teens they serve.”
The Comprehensive Approach to Mental Health Promotion and Suicide Prevention in High Schools provides high schools and districts with a framework to support and improve student mental health, reduce risk for suicide, and prepare students emotionally for the transition out of high school and into young adulthood. This approach encompasses a series of recommendations grouped under broader, thematic domains, which schools can undertake to ensure a holistic approach to student mental health and suicide risk prevention. It focuses on seven key domains that support mental health promotion and suicide prevention:
Domain 1: Develop Life Skills
Domain 2: Promote Social Connectedness and a Positive School Climate
Domain 3: Encourage Help-Seeking Behaviors
Domain 4: Improve Recognition and Response to Signs of Distress and Risk
Domain 5: Ensure Student Access to Effective Mental Health Treatment
Domain 6: Establish and Follow Crisis Management Procedures
Domain 7: Promote Means Safety
To download the survey report and the comprehensive approach, please visit https://www.jedfoundation.org/jed-high-school/.
This project was funded in part by the Jolene McCaw Family Foundation, Morgan Stanley Foundation, Poses Family Foundation, Mindy and Jesse Rogers, Linda Vester and Glenn Greenberg, Saks Fifth Avenue Foundation, Allen Family Foundation, and Eileen Farbman.