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New APA Poll: American Adults Largely Support Mental Health Programming in Schools Gun Violence is a Top Worry as Children Return to School

  • August 11, 2022

Washington, D.C., Aug. 11, 2022 — The majority of adults agree that it is important for schools to play a key role in mental health, through educating students about the topic (86%), staff training (87%), or connecting students to mental health support (84%).

When asked to rank their level of concern on seven issues negatively affecting K-12 students, adults ranked gun violence (55%), mental health (50%), and cyberbullying and social media (48%) among their top three highest concerns. COVID-19 was most likely to rank 7th with a quarter of parents (27%) marking it as least concerning. 

These findings are from the American Psychiatric Association (APA)’s Healthy Minds Monthly Poll, which was conducted by Morning Consult July 21 and 22, 2022, among a sample of 2,210 adults.

“The overwhelming support for mental health programming in schools is so important for our next generation, as we face an unprecedented mental health crisis for adolescents and youth,” said APA President Rebecca Brendel, M.D., J.D. “We must continue to support evidence-based practices that help children when they need it most."

Most parents (73%) would be comfortable referring their child to a mental health professional if they noticed a concerning change in behavior. However, Black parents were less likely to report that they would be comfortable doing so (54%) than their White (76%) or Hispanic (72%) counterparts. Mothers were more likely to say so (77%) than fathers (67%).

About half of parents surveyed indicated that they were still concerned about the pandemic’s effect on their child’s mental health (53%) and social skills (50%).

A majority of adults said they believe their local K-12 schools have a guidance counselor (68%) or school nurse (63%) available for students; the numbers were smaller for school resource officers (48%), social workers (31%), psychologists (23%) or psychiatrists (13%); and 21% didn’t know.

Anxiety Around Current Events

Similar to last month’s Healthy Minds Monthly poll results, 85% of adults reported they were anxious about inflation. Anxiety about climate change rose 4 percentage points to 60%, with a nine-point increase among Hispanics and a 17-point increase among Black adults. COVID-19-related anxiety rose 7 points to 55%, with significant increases among Black adults (+22), moms (+11), parents (+10) and Hispanics (+9). More than half (56%) of Americans indicated anxiety around the future of reproductive rights, up 6 points since July, and 70% were anxious about gun violence, an increase of 4 percentage points.

“Many global issues are weighing on Americans’ minds as we move into the end of summer,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “While the news can be stressful, taking action on an issue can help us to feel empowered, and for many, ensuring we aren’t exposing ourselves to constant negative news can help.”

*APA’s Healthy Minds Monthly tracks timely mental health issues throughout the year. For a copy of the results, contact [email protected], and learn more at www.psychiatry.org.

American Psychiatric Association

The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 37,000 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and research of mental illnesses. APA’s vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information, please visit www.psychiatry.org.

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