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Brooke Lawson is the mental health coordinator at Hamilton Southeastern Schools in Indiana.

Early intervention efforts that include open, clear communications with students and their families are key.

Districts are building supports for students in foster care—from raising awareness, providing PD and creating special programs to adding specialized staff and even running permanent group homes.

Across the US, the number of teen suicides has risen dramatically over the years. Whether it’s the stress of high-level courses or the anxiety of divorcing parents, a staggering amount of students are overcrowding school counseling centers, says Psychology Today. In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that 1 in 5 teenagers and young adults suffer from mental illness.

Maine early-college student Brianna Smith, right, studies water circulation in Portland Harbor with a community college professor.

Under a statewide program first funded in 2013, Vermont students can leave public high schools before their senior year to enroll full-time in college.

They can then graduate from high school with a full year of college credits. While students don’t pay tuition, they do have to pay for textbooks and fees.

Psychologists from Boston Public Schools participate in PD events as part of the district’s Comprehensive Behavioral Health Model.

In many schools, psychologists have time for little more than assessing students. That prevents them from using their range of skills in counseling, data analysis and preventing bullying, suicide and violence. 

Volunteers for the Ferguson, Mo. group Parents for Peace welcome back students at Ferguson Middle School in August. (Photo: Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio)

Administrators at the Ferguson-Florissant School District in suburban St. Louis doubled the number of counselors during the first week of school in late August to help students cope with their emotions during the time of instability following Michael Brown’s death.

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded $12.3 million to 35 school districts in 17 states to expand counseling programs, as ongoing budget cuts have led to reductions in the numbers of counselors and other support staff.

Schools feeling an increasing need to provide student mental health services are partnering with nonprofits to open on-campus clinics as budget cuts have left many districts with fewer psychologists, counselors, and social workers.

Newtown Public Schools Superintendent Janet Robinson gives a news briefing last January about Monroe’s Chalk Hill School, where the Sandy Hook Elementary School children are continuing their education this school year.

Last December, the small town of Newtown, Conn., was forever changed. The students, staff, parents, and community members of Newtown (Conn.) Public Schools were traumatized on Dec. 14, 2012, when lone gunman and former student Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

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