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May is Mental Health Month

By: Liz Deskins and Susan Yutzey

Pinterest Board Curated By: Cathie Cooper and Jody Casella

While May is Mental Health month, those of us in education realize that every month should be.

Facts about Adolescent Mental Health

From the National Center for Children in Poverty  here are some statistics:

Approximately 20% of adolescents have a diagnosable mental health disorder

Many mental health disorders first present during adolescence.
  • Between 20% and 30% of adolescents have one major depressive episode before they reach adulthood.
  • For a quarter of individuals with mood disorders like depression, these first emerge during adolescence.
  • Between 50% and 75% of adolescents with anxiety disorders and impulse control disorders (such as conduct disorder or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) develop these during adolescence.
These are staggering statistics, and those who work with teens know them to be true.

As school librarians, we have some advantages over other professionals in our buildings.  Our spaces are usually considered safe places and students spend time there for many reasons.  We don’t grade, we don’t judge, and we are happy to see them. This allows us to build long-term relationships; we have these students for several years and often see them longer than any classroom teacher.  We hear their stories, happy and sad, and we know their moods and behaviors. This means we are in the perfect spot to catch the warning signs. We can make a difference. We just need to learn how. Here are a few resources that will help.

NAMI The National Alliance on Mental Illness has some excellent articles to learn more.

OELMA Pinterest Board: YA Books that Get Real about Mental Health

YA Books that Get Real about Mental Health, created by Cathie Cooper, shows some excellent fiction titles that may help us open up about difficult topics.  The books may become mirrors, windows, or doors for our students.

And finally, BookRiot’s Powerful and Authentic Teen Books about Depression to Better Understand the Illness

As Kelly Jensen, author of this blog, states “ mental illness in teen books has become more abundant in the last few years, in part because of how discussion of mental illness has grown more mainstream culturally.  Teen books about depression, in particular, are offering a space for seeing the myriad shapes and forms the illness can take.”

We hope this blog makes you think and give you resources to support your students.