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Mental Health


Why is Mental Health Important?

Individuals who are mentally healthy are able to cope with the normal stresses of life.  These stresses do not impact their ability to work productively, make contributions to the community, and built and maintain healthy relationships.

Conversely, a mental health disorder or mental illness impacts a person's ability to function.  The person's thinking, behavior, and emotions are affected, and the illness disrupts their ability to carry out daily activities like attend work/school, or engage in satisfying relationships - Youth Mental Health First Aid Course.

Mental health conditions impact a large number of youth.  The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has put together an infographic to demonstrate the importance of this topic.  some statistics shared in this infographic are:

  • 1 in 5 children ages 13-18 have or will have a serious mental illness.
  • 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin be age 14 and 75% by age 24.
  • The average delay between the onset of symptoms and intervention is 8-10 years.
  • Approximately 50% of students age 14 and older with a mental illness drop out of high school.

In addition, in 2011, suicide became the second leading cause of death for youth ages 15-24 in the U.S.  In 2014, suicide was the second also the second leading case of death for youth ages 10-14 in the U.S., though it dropped to the third leading cause in 2015. - Leading Causes of Death and Injury Charts, CDC

Iowa's data tells a similar story, and in recent years, suicide has been the second leading cause of death for youth ages 15-24.- 2014 Vital Statistics of Iowa, IDPH and Iowa 2015 State Fact Sheet, Children's Safety Network

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES)

Adverse Childhood Experiences, more commonly known as ACEs, are stressful or traumatic events experienced during childhood.  Research shows these events impact brain development, and are related to health problems throughout the lifespan.


Resilience is the ability to thrive, adapt, and cope despite tough times.  it is the ability to overcome and, in some cases, benefit from challenging experiences.  Both staff and students benefit from the ability to bounce back from challenges with new learning and strength.

Suicide Prevention

Trauma-Informed/Trauma-Sensitive Schools

"A trauma-sensitive school is a safe and respectful environment that enables students to build caring relationships with adults and peers, self-regulate their emotions and behaviors, and succeed academically, while supporting their physical health and well-being."

Resources and Information

School Mental Health Referral Pathways (SMHRP) Toolkit

Children's Mental health Disorder Fact Sheet for the Classroom

Children's Mental Health

National Institute of mental Health

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Mental Health Fact Sheets

Youth Mental Health First Aid

Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) is an 8-hour course designed to teach parents, family members, teachers, school staff, neighbors, and other caring adults about (1) the unique risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems in adolescents, (2) the importance of early intervention, and (3) how to help an adolescent experiencing a mental health challenge or crisis.  The course is focused on information participants can use to help youth ages 12-18.  YMHFA can be taught in one 8-hour day, or two 4-hour days.

For more information how your district or organization can receive training in YMHFA, contact:

Nancy Ankeny-Hunt
YMHFA Coordinator

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on April 22, 2018 at 7:06pm.