Mental Health Awareness

Image of smiling girl in front of a schoolbus with classmates

Mental illness is a major global health issue. In the United States alone the National Institutes for Health reports that nearly 44 million adults (18%) experience mental illness per year. Raising awareness and increasing the understanding of mental health can change the way society views and responds to this complex issue. AIR promotes positive mental health through school and community-based approaches involving youth, families, school, health care providers, and other stakeholders.

Through research, training, technical assistance, evaluation, and policy work, AIR experts are at the forefront assisting states, schools, and communities in raising awareness and implementing strategies that have lasting effects on a number of topics, including:

Learn more about mental health issues and strategies in the resources that follow.

The COVID-19 Pandemic

The pandemic has significantly impacted the mental health of people of all ages. Here are some resources we've developed to shed light on the struggles and offer potential solutions:
  • AIR’s COVID-19 Response and Resources
  • When Schools Go Dark, School Counselors Shine: School Counseling During a Global Pandemic (Brief)
  • Mental Health First Aid in Schools: Connecting Public Health, Policy, & Equity in COVID-19 (Webinar recording)
  • In Conversation: What Do Rising Rates of Anxiety and Depression Mean for Families, Schools, and Communities? (Q&A)
  • A Quick Word with: Kathleen Guarino on Mental Health During a Health Crisis (Q&A)
  • COVID-19 and Whole Child Efforts: Reopening Update (Brief)

National Resource Center for Healthy Safe Children

The National Resource Center, operated by AIR, works closely with and offers many resources for states, schools, communities, tribes, and territories. Among them are self-paced learning modules and online learning events to support and provide training on a wide range of topics related to mental health promotion and youth violence prevention.

  • The School Mental Health Modules series offers an interactive, self-paced learning experience on developing and implementing a comprehensive school mental health program at the school and community level with support from the state.
  • The Safe Schools/Healthy Students Framework Implementation Toolkit is designed for use by school-based teams at the community level, and can also be used by teams based at community mental health and youth-serving organizations working in law enforcement, juvenile justice, and social services.
  • An e-book on core strategies to promote young child wellness highlights community experiences from SAMHSA-funded Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health) grantees and offers creative approaches and innovative strategies that can inform early childhood efforts in all communities.

Other Related AIR Work

  • Grantee highlights from the National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments (NCSSLE): Featured work and innovations from ED-funded grantees (school districts and state education agencies across the country) on how they are promoting mental health, preventing youth violence, and improving student outcomes, particularly now in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Expanding the pipeline of mental health providers into rural school districts in New York: The Sodus Central School District has partnered with local colleges and universities to provide internship experiences for graduate level social workers, school counselors, mental health counselors, and school psychologists and provides training in a variety of interventions, including restorative practices (see the toolkit).
  • Building student resilience in middle school and junior high: NCSSLE developed a toolkit for educators to help students strengthen resilience and rise above the challenges they face.
  • Helping people recover and rebuild after a disaster: The SAMHSA-funded Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program helps states, U.S. territories, tribes, and local providers plan for and respond to behavioral health needs after a disaster, including the COVID-19 pandemic.