7 resources to prevent bullying and support student mental health

Anyone can recall a time when they felt like an outcast in school. Indeed, K–12 students face struggles, obstacles, and life lessons that require support from not only parents, but also teachers and school administrators. In a recent study, the CDC found millions of American children are living with depression, anxiety, ADHD, Tourette syndrome, or a host of other mental health issues. These mental health issues, when not properly diagnosed or treated, can lead to increased drug and alcohol abuse. With children and adolescents, it is important to address the topic of bullying, shown to elevate these issues, when discussing mental health and raising mental health awareness.

Bullying Intervention and Mental Health

Studies show that students who are bullied often suffer from depression, earn lower grades in school, and are at a higher risk for suicidal thoughts. Additionally, those who witness bullying may feel helpless or tempted to instigate the issue.

In an effort to raise awareness about these issues, organizations like Violence Prevention Works, seek to educate parents and administrators about the dangers of bullying and dispel common misconceptions about bullying, including the fact that it does not simply involve one bully and one victim in every situation. For instance, often there is a “bullying circle.” A bullying circle is when everyone involved in bullying—from active aggressors to active defenders—is part of the bullying cycle and/or is directly affected by it. The effects of bullying are widespread and impact not only the victim and perpetrator, but also their peers, family, and friends.

Advocating for Safe Spaces

It is vitally important to raise awareness about the importance of mental health, including how to tackle bullying in schools and ways to advocate for safe learning environments. By doing so, we can spark valuable conversations and create a vast network of resources, information, and treatment options that educators, administrators, parents, and students can easily access and understand.

USC Rossier School of Education has created Creating Safe Spaces: Lesson Plans for Social-Emotional Learning—a bullying prevention toolkit + lesson plan guide—that acts as a mental health resource for teachers and classrooms, as well as students in Rossier’s online teaching degree programs. The lesson plans are inspired by You Matter, a grassroots campaign by MSW@USC, that emphasizes the importance of human connections in conversations of mental health. Here are seven other organizations committed to bolstering students’ mental health and preventing bullying.

Organizations Committed to Students’ Mental Health

  1. Active Minds: Active Minds seeks to change the conversation about mental health. The site provides resources and encourages students to get involved.
  2. Jed: The Jed Foundation has been a leader in emotional health for more than 15 years. They have a specific model to approaching mental health issues and boast award-winning programs.
  3. Higher Education Mental Health Alliance (HEMHA): HEMHA works to raise awareness about mental health in higher education through advocacy events, research, and partnerships with other organizations.
  4. Jack: This Canadian-based organization boasts a national network of young leaders dedicated to changing the discourse regarding mental health through peer-to-peer engagement, discussions, and chapters.
  5. Stop Bullying: This is a comprehensive government site that addresses in-person and cyber bullying, identifies those who are at risk, and highlights proper responses and prevention methods.
  6. Violence Prevention Works: This organization provides the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program and certifications for administrators.
  7. Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL): CASEL offers a framework for evaluating the quality of social and emotional school programs and evaluates the effectiveness of said framework. The framework is split into two models: preschool and elementary edition, and middle and high school edition.

For more information about bullying prevention, visit USC Rossier School of Education’s toolkit, Creating Safe Spaces: Lesson Plans for Social-Emotional Learning.