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Mental Health


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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. A National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) infographic demonstrates 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 by 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 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.

Protocols and Training Guidance Available

In 2018, the Iowa Legislature passed Senate File 2113 requiring protocols and school employee training relating to suicide prevention and postvention, identification of adverse childhood experiences, and strategies to mitigate toxic stress response. The requirements of Senate File 2113, Iowa Code 279.70 and Iowa Administrative Code 281-14.4 apply to all public school districts in Iowa. The school district’s board must require annual training by July 1, 2019. The trainings do not have to occur until after July 1, 2019, and must be provided annually. School districts have the authority to select the evidence-based, evidence-supported training that best meets the needs of their district.

Guidance for protocols and training for suicide prevention and postvention, adverse childhood experiences identification and strategies to mitigate toxic stress response

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

Digital Shareables on Child and Adolescent Mental Health (National Institute of Mental Health)

National Institute of Mental Health

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Youth Mental Health First Aider Resource List

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 Hunt
YMHFA Coordinator