To the Editor:
I concur that educators cannot be the sole entities in solving homelessness among our youths and future adults. If appropriately trained, teachers and relevant staff can help bridge the gap in accessibility to various community resources by connecting youths and families to assistance (“Our Student Homeless Numbers Are Staggering. Schools Can Be a Bridge to a Solution,”Sept. 14, 2021).
Many students who experience homelessness also experience mental-health crises. As mentioned in the article, homelessness is rising, and COVID-19 has made it even more volatile. According to the U.S. surgeon general, it is the same for mental-health crises—which many teachers and school staff are also not adequately trained to handle. Youths and rising adults need wraparound intervention, such as multidisciplinary programs addressing mental health, housing, and employment.
Across the country, teachers have expressed the urgency and importance of proper training in spotting trauma and responding appropriately. In Virginia, the legislature enacted a bill that requires public schools’ relevant staff to complete mental-health-awareness training through an approved state agency to help educate and connect school staff to many community-based resources.
All 50 states should have policies that supply additional training to our teachers in handling mental-health and homelessness crises. The training is necessary. Our youths depend on us!
Child & Adolescent Mental-Health Case Manager
Master of Social Work Graduate Student
Virginia Commonwealth University
A version of this article appeared in the January 12, 2022 edition of Education Week as Train Educators to Help Students Experiencing Homelessness And Mental-Health Crises