Morning Zen

Students Make Data-Based Appeal for Mental Health Services

February 15, 2017

Morning Zen Guest Blog Post ~ Kevin Dwyer ~

This week I learned, yet again, that our youth are the true voice of reason. The editorial board of the Montgomery County, Maryland Whitman High School “Black&White online newspaper proved the realistic need for school-wide mental health screening and follow-up support. These student editors surveyed their school and found that 44% of Whitman’s affluent suburban students had mental health issues that effected their functioning. They did their research noting the usual CDC/NIMH estimates that 25% of adolescents have mental health issues that effect their functioning and the fact that only about 25% of those diagnosed get mental health services. These statistics have been well documented for more than 20 years yet little progress has been made in the school-wide screening or the follow-up access to effective mental health services. Whitman High School has over 2000 students but doesn’t even have a full-time school psychologist. As one clinician noted, “the counselors are overwhelmed.” Mental health remains an ignored problem even in an enlightened affluent suburban community that houses the headquarters of NIMH and SAMHSA.

Listen to the children. Listen to their data-based appeal for mental health services! These students need our encouragement. The editorial and your chance to comment can be accessed at:


dwyerKevin P. Dwyer, M.A., a Nationally Certified School Psychologist, is an education and child mental health consultant.  He recently served as a principal research associate for the American Institutes for Research. For over 30 years he practiced school psychology in public schools and held several local, state and national leadership positions in the fields of mental health and education, being responsible for the design, development, implementation and evaluation of programs and practices, for improving school climate, safety, and wellbeing for the education, and mental health of children.  He has helped school staff in many districts use data to inform decisions on improving caring and connectedness with students and professional peers.  His work, publications, presentations, and practices have influenced public policy and the development of efficient, family focused collaborative child service systems.  During his 30 years as a public school psychologist he worked directly with over 10,000 children and their families as well as trained over 6000 educators. He provided psychological services to children, including those with disabilities and those whose anxiety and mental health problems blocked learning and adjustment.  He assisted teachers and staff in supporting a caring, inclusive school climate for all children.  In 2007 the Maryland Coalition of Families awarded Mr. Dwyer and his wife for their work in making schools more family friendly.  He served as president of the National Association of School Psychologist and was given its highest honor, the Life-time Achievement Award.  In 2000 he received the Tipper Gore “Advocacy award for improving the lives and mental health of America’s children” from the National Mental Health Association.

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