September 15, 2021 – The Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority (Trust) has released a landscape assessment report examining current mental health supports within Alaska’s school districts. This study was funded by the Trust and conducted in coordination with the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development (DEED), the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), and in partnership with school districts across Alaska.
The Trust contracted with the Stellar Group to complete the report,“Mental Health Supports in Alaska Schools, A Landscape Assessment.” Thirty-one districts participated in interviews that informed this landscape assessment. The interviews focused on areas of inquiry including student and staff mental health concerns; general practices of supportive school climates; mental health resources, services, and supports; barriers to providing supports; and ideal systems.
The information in the assessment is intended to help state and local policy makers better understand how school districts are supporting students, and to help stakeholders identify gaps in services and opportunities to improve how our schools support students and families.
“At the Trust, we have long supported the idea that mental health is just as important as physical health, and that idea certainly applies to students – particularly as we enter the third academic year impacted by the pandemic,” said Mike Abbott, CEO of the Trust. “We appreciate our partnership with the state in completing this assessment and know it will be valuable for informing decisions and conversations around ensuring young Trust beneficiaries are supported in their schools and communities. Thank you to all the education professionals who participated in this effort.”
“Through Alaska’s Education Challenge, the State Board of Education prioritized improving the safety and well-being of students through school partnerships with families, communities, and tribes,” said Dr. Michael Johnson, Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Education & Early Development. “This landscape report provides fundamental information necessary to reach that goal. Thank you to the Alaska Mental Health Trust for its leadership and support to provide an excellent education for all of Alaska’s students every day.”
Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum noted, “Our department welcomes this new assessment of the extensive efforts school districts all across the state are engaged in to support the emotional well-being of Alaska’s youth. Having this comprehensive, up-to-date picture of their efforts gives us a better understanding of how districts are already working with their communities to support students, staff and families. That, in turn, helps inform our team’s efforts so we can enhance their work. By working together with the Trust, DEED and our community partners we will continue to transform Alaska’s system of care to one that supports young people’s whole health so they can focus on learning, and living a healthy life with a bright future.”
The report will also inform the second phase of research planned for later this year that will investigate community partnerships and policies supporting mental health needs of students and families, and indicators of behavioral health needs in Alaska schools.
You can access the complete “Mental Health Supports in Alaska Schools, A Landscape Assessment” and accompanying school district profiles on the Trust webpage, alaskamentalhealthtrust.org.
Contact: Allison Biastock, Chief Communications Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org, 907-334-2531