Summer is often painted as a time of joy: a break from school, vacations, and endless fun in the sun. However, this isn’t always the case for everyone. Schools play an important role in the lives of many students, by providing not only education but also vital support systems. When school ends for the summer, these supports can vanish, leaving students vulnerable to what can be termed “summer mental health loss.” 

While summer mental health loss is still a prediction, it’s based on important observations. Schools are the primary source of mental health support for 5 out of 6 students who seek help. Many kids come to schools for a safe community and to engage in positive activities like learning, sports, and social interactions. For the 40% of students identified with mental health challenges, the end of the school year can mean the loss of these essential connections. 

How Schools Can Help

Despite the break, schools can still support students’ mental health during the summer in several ways:

Promote Crisis Resources:

Highlight the National Suicide Hotline, 9-8-8, which is available 24/7 in English and Spanish. Ensure kids and families are aware of this critical resource. 

Reinforce Key Messages:

Provide reviews and summaries of mental health education from the school year.  Remind students about coping strategies for anxiety, depression, and substance awareness, and encourage them to take proactive steps when needed. 

Utilize Community Resources:

Promote local mental health services such as clinics, outreach centers, and safe havens. Share information about where students can find help and support during the summer months. 

Collaborate with Other Programs:

Reach out to summer programs and camps that interact with students. Share resources and encourage these programs to disseminate the information to their participants. 

Encourage Peer Support:

Empower students to look out for one another. Equip them with the knowledge and resources to help friends and family members who may be in crisis. 

Support School Staff:

Ensure staff are also taking care of their mental health. Share self-care strategies and encourage staff to use the summer to recharge, whether through reading, traveling, or learning new coping skills. Remind them that they too have access to mental health resources. 

While summer is often viewed as a carefree time, it can also be a period of significant mental health challenges for many students. By taking proactive steps, schools can continue to provide vital support even when classes are not in session. Promoting awareness, providing resources, and fostering community connections can help mitigate the risks of summer mental health loss, ensuring students have the support they need year-round.