The Rise of Behavioral and Mental Health Needs Among Students

Designing a framework of behavioral and mental health support for students
By: | Issue: May 2020 | Web Seminar Digest
May 1, 2020

Administrators know that academic growth is impacted by mental health and behavioral needs, but supporting and meeting these needs can be challenging.

This webinar presented by PresenceLearning featured Dr. Isaiah Pickens, a licensed clinical psychologist and CEO of iOpening Enterprises. He discussed how to design a framework for supporting school-based mental health services using targeted approaches, implementation science and effective strategic planning.


Kate Eberle Walker

Dr. Isaiah Pickens
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
iOpening Enterprises

Kate Eberle Walker: With our network of nearly 1,000 best-in-class clinicians, PresenceLearning is the leading provider of live online-related services for K-12 schools. We are helping schools meet the needs of their students in speech language pathology, occupational therapy and psychoeducational services, which is today’s topic.

Isaiah Pickens shares our belief that the best way to help schools tackle a big topic such as behavioral and mental health is by sharing practical approaches that can be put into action.

Isaiah Pickens: We’re seeing a historic rise in the behavioral and mental health needs of young people. Research in the 2010s found that about 21% showed signs of some kind of symptom from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Between 2009 and 2017, the number of high schoolers who contemplated suicide increased by 25%, and those who were diagnosed with clinical depression grew by 37%.

We need whole-school approaches. The challenge is executing with all staff members on the same page. We need to think about how to integrate implementation science in a way that allows us to have buy-in from our staff. Then you’re able to focus your mental health and behavioral interventions in a stepwise approach. From an implementation science perspective, schools and districts have the ability to actually systematize a lot of these practices, ultimately changing the trajectory of the academic experience of many students.

I highly encourage thinking about how to address staff wellness. Burnout has been a tremendous obstacle to retaining teachers and related service professionals. I also encourage using whole-school approaches in ways that don’t just plug holes. Take a step back and think about how you can explore many of these issues holistically.

There is great risk and reward to the potential opportunities you have. Students have the potential to disrupt classes when we don’t address mental health and behavioral needs, but there’s also potential for them to have tremendous success in academics and in connecting with others from a social-emotional space. We can have blind spots about how we connect with students, due to implicit bias, our own experiences, or the students themselves and the things that have happened in their lives. It’s important for us to be mindful of their potential.

To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please visit