MSDE releases resource guide to strengthen student mental health, addressing suicide and sex trafficking

The Maryland State Department of Education has published a new resource guide featuring Mental Health and Wellness Programs across the State, and created two new websites to provide information to districts regarding youth suicide and human trafficking.

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In November, 2017 the Maryland State Department of Education published a new resource guide featuring Mental Health and Wellness Programs across the State. MSDE also created two new websites providing information to districts regarding youth suicide and human trafficking. These resources mark the first outcomes of a committee, launched to place a special focus on student mental health issues.

The 40-page resource guide, developed in collaboration with MSDE’s Division of Student, Family, and School Support, spotlights best practices in school mental health and wellness programs. The web pages provide information about prevention and intervention resources.

According to the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide continues to be the third leading cause of death for youth in the United States and in Maryland. During 2014, Maryland lost 73 youth due to suicide. The resource will hopefully not only hopefully get students help before they get to the point where they attempt suicide, but also help those students preoccupied by concern for friends they feel may be considering self harm or suicide.

For many people, the reality of child sex trafficking—the commercial sexual exploitation of children—in their community is difficult to comprehend, much less know what to do about it. It exists across demographics and includes both foreign born children and those born here. Many child victims of human trafficking are students Maryland schools. It is not limited to cities and exists in the suburbs and rural areas as well.

The MSDE Mental Health Committee began meeting in June 2016 to explore student mental health issues, which had emerged as a concern for many board members. Through the efforts of the committee, a new spotlight has been placed on the issues of teen suicide and human trafficking. Committee members met with various State partners to study these mental health issues and develop recommendations for the State Board and MSDE.

State Board President Andy Smarick thanked the committee for advancing the valuable work in conjunction with MSDE’s leadership and staff. “The Board appreciates the leadership of Board members Stephanie Iszard and Dr. Michele Guyton,” President Smarick added. “With Dr. Salmon and the MSDE team, they’ve helped shine a light on important issues and make resources available to Maryland’s educators, families, and students.”

The Youth Suicide Prevention guide can be found here

The new Child Abuse, Neglect and Human Trafficking page can be accessed on the Maryland Public Schools website

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