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Mental health is one of the biggest challenges facing every school across the nation. Mental health encompasses many topics, including suicide prevention, brain disorders, trauma, social-emotional learning, and self-care.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for young people. Girls attempt suicide more than boys, yet boys complete more often, though recent data suggests that the gender gap is closing. One out of five young people has a mental illness, yet fewer than 20% receive treatment. LGBTQ youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. …


Those ten seconds are a slow version of my brain at any given second. More accurate would be speeding everything up by 50–100 miles per hour faster. I struggle with attention and focus far more than I struggle with hyperactivity. Those that work with me and my children would say that it is extremely rare that I am not doing something. Even to sit and watch tv, I have to do something else at the same time whether it be work on my computer, a game on my phone, a puzzle, paint, or even read a book. …


According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10–34 across the nation. Some states are facing suicide epidemics with rates rapidly rising without a decline in sight. For instance, in Iowa, 21% of youth have seriously thought about killing themselves in the last year. Given that students spend the majority of time in schools, it is advantageous for schools to be well-prepared in education, prevention, and mental health awareness.

Suicide Warning Signs (CDC, 2018)

It is very challenging for educators to be able to recognize a red flag without…


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After many decades in education, I know many people will see this title and immediately want to curse my existence, but please hear me out prior to the cursing.

Data is Critical

Very little in education should happen without data to drive the decision-making process. When I go to the doctor, I appreciate that they do a vast amount of data collection with my temperature, height, weight, blood pressure, heart rate, and blood work prior to making my diagnosis. I cannot imagine just walking into the doctor’s office and by looking at me from a distance they prescribed my treatment…


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Remember that time you were more nervous than you have ever been before? Your heart raced, your brain felt like chaos, your palms were clammy, your breathing was faster, and it was hard to be anything but irritable? Welcome to the 24–7 life of many of your students. Over 4.4 million children 3–17 are diagnosed with anxiety, not including the countless others not diagnosed or treated.

Sometimes as educators we forget that our students don’t wear signs or look like they have a reason they can’t be functioning the way that we want them to in our classrooms and schools…


You know that feeling when you get your note or email from your district saying it’s time for school to start soon? For some it’s joy. Others it’s overwhelming. Yet others it’s immediate anxiety. Our students can have the same responses as school draws closer.

Start the transition back to school long before the first day

One of the biggest missed opportunities we make as educators is waiting until the first day of school to start the transition for our students. As a parent, anytime I, or my child, received anything over the summer from an upcoming teacher, I would…


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When I turned 38, I had founded and been running a youth mental health nonprofit for two years. I spent most of that time telling young people that it was safe to turn to a trusted adult and share dark, and even suicidal, thoughts. I told them that they were safe, and they had nothing to be ashamed of for having these thoughts.

I saw countless youth that I mentored share their stories of struggle and suicidal ideation. They were my heroes because I was not as brave as them to share my own secrets.

It was at our third…


Mental illness is a vicious monster that not only wreaks havoc on the minds of those suffering, but it also leaves a path of destruction across the people and systems entrusted to “fix” the problems.

Caregivers and parents are on a treacherous journey that doesn’t have a map or resources. They are left with more questions than answers. There is nothing worse than being a parent seeing your child hurting and not being able to do anything about it, especially if that hurting looks like scary behaviors such as self-injury, suicidal thoughts, or aggression. Dealing with an aggressive child, as…


And why you should go too

Last year, my friend said she found a cheap flight to Peru, and we should go. Admittedly, Peru was not at the top of my travel list, because I didn’t know much about it. Though I appreciate a flight deal and exploring new places, so I jumped at it. It’s also critical to note, or she’d call me out, that I really didn’t plan much of the trip. Our planning started on a rainy Saturday night in a little dive restaurant eating soggy nachos and street tacos with bad wifi using our phones. Then…


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The importance of normalizing being a flawed human

I started down the escalator towards the conference registration with a nervous confidence. I had been preparing all morning for my presentation at one of my favorite larger conferences. Being invited was an honor and to see my name in the same program as international experts was humbling. With each step, my heels rhythmically clicked on the white tile floor making me feel like I was going to nail this. …

Jen Ulie Wells

I write about social justice, education, and mental health. Jennifer Ulie-Wells, Ph.D. @JenniferWells23 Blogger schoolmentalwealth.wordpress.com

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