Mental Health Now Top Concern for K-12 Schools, Second for Colleges
For K-12 schools, managing mental health edged out COVID-19 safety measures for the top safety concern for the 2022-23 school year.
A new report found K-12 and college campuses are shifting much of their focus from COVID-19 safety measures to managing mental health and violence.
The 2022 Crisis Communication and Safety in Education Survey, conducted by Rave Mobile Safety, highlights the most pressing crisis communication challenges and safety concerns heading into the 2022-2023 school year. The survey was distributed to more than 400 K-12 employees and over 380 higher education employees in Feb. 2022 and received nearly 800 responses.
Key findings from the second-annual survey include:
- Student mental health is the top safety concern for the 2022-2023 school year for K-12 respondents (61%) and the second-highest concern for higher education respondents (59%).
- Faculty and staff mental health is the third-highest safety concern for respondents from both K-12 schools (52%) and higher education institutions (44%).
- Concerns over active assailants on campus rose year-over-year for both K-12 respondents (+14%) and higher education respondents (+15%).
- K-12 survey respondents shared increased concern about cyberbullying compared to 2021 (+12%), while higher education administrators expressed increased anxiety regarding crime (+20%) and severe weather events (+19%).
- To address these concerns, respondents on both the K-12 (43%) and higher education (39%) fronts are investing more heavily in mental health resources.
- 50% of K-12 schools believe they have adequate mental health resources to support students.
- For crisis communications, K-12 respondents indicated room for improvement in reaching staff (23%), and students and parents/guardians (26%), while higher education respondents had less concern in reaching staff (16%), and students and parents/guardians (15%).
For K-12 schools, in addition to growing mental health concerns, 55% of respondents said they are more concerned about active assailants and violence on campus than they were before the pandemic.
Nearly 80% also said recent waves of threats on TikTok and other social media platforms have contributed to their concern for campus safety.
COVID-19 related-safety measures are still the top concern for colleges and universities for next year (71%), followed by student mental health (59%) and faculty/staff mental health (44%).
Additionally, concerns over crime on higher education campuses increased by 20% and concerns over active assailants increased by 15%. Similar to K-12 schools, 46% of higher education survey takers are more concerned about active assailants and violent acts than they were before the pandemic.
In addition to mental health resources, higher education campuses are investing more in COVID-19-related safety resources (45%). They are also offering greater access to health and wellness services (38%).
Compared to K-12 respondents, respondents in higher education experienced fewer communication challenges. However, 16% said they still have a hard time reaching staff while 15% struggle to reach students, parents, and/or guardians during a crisis.
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