Merz, S. (2018). Who in Your Class Needs Help. Mental Health in Schools, 75(4), 12-17. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/dec17/vol75/num04/Who-in-Your-Class-Needs-Help%C2%A2.aspx
Michelman, B. (2017). Whole Child Schools, Healthy Students. Policy Priorities: An Information Brief from ASCD, 23(4), 1- 7. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/newsletters/policy-priorities/vol23/num04/Whole-Child-Schools,-Healthy-Students.aspx
The first professional-reviewed article by Merz outlines a more personal experience with student mental health in school. The narrative of realizing one of the author’s students was experiencing mental health problems is the central focus of this writing. In this case, the writer’s eighth grade student opened up and proved her perceptions of the student wrong. Lucy’s statement, “I just don’t want to be sad anymore” (Merz, 2018) was the turning point. Merz states how inadequate she felt with this specific situation relating to a student’s mental health. This emphasizes how teachers do not have the professional training when it comes to mental health in their classrooms. Merz continues to discuss what she describes as the mental health training gap. The mental training gap highlights the zero training most teachers have when dealing with mental health in school. Of course, there are other individuals in the school system that can offer support and services such as counselors or psychiatrists. However, many states don’t even have psychiatrists or don’t have the recommended number of counselors per student. The theme of agreement that teachers need “professional development on issues and best practices regarding student mental health” (Merz, 2018) is key. Merz puts forward several questions surrounding this issue. These questions include concerns about how teacher training would look, the legal and ethical issues teachers may face, the possibility of liability, and the language teachers should use when referring to mental health. One thing that is certain is that there is a prominent lack of student mental health training for teachers across the United States.
The second professional-reviewed article is written by Michelman and discusses the concept of whole child schools and holistic education. Holistic approaches to students is important since low number of schools which offer “comprehensive whole child-centered policies and practices that address students’ needs” (Michelman, 2017) exist. One of the main reasons there is such variance comes from the disparity of school requirements from state to state. With a stronger focus on the academic instructional time, other “components of a student’s overall success and well-being, such as PE and social and emotional health, often fall by the wayside” (Michelman, 2017). Schools are forgetting the importance of looking at students as a whole child and seem to frequently only emphasize the academic nature of education. For instance, sometimes school lunch is “treated as a nuisance interruption” (Michelman, 2017) rather than a crucial part of a student’s well-being. Michelman describes the comprehensive well-being of an individual student into five different areas. These include school-based nutrition standards, health and PE programs, and Medicaid reimbursement to schools for essential health-related services. Furthermore, the impact of social and emotional supports on academic success, and education policies that support a well-rounded, education which embodies the whole child are both characteristics of a comprehensive student well-being. A model of whole child collaboration known as the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model has been adopted in only 26 states. The idea of social and emotional learning serves as a foundation for the whole child approach. By incorporating social and emotional learning strategies student outcomes should improve, safe supportive culture should function better, and more positives should be fostered. A major takeaway from this article is the concept of a whole child approach requires input from the federal, state, and local levels to be successful and fulfill the needs of students.